Students learn about air pollution

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 19, 2013

Small groups of Cabarrus area sixth graders watched as their glasses of clear water became darker and darker. Imagining that the water was the air we breathe, they learned about air pollution Sept. 10-12 at the Cabarrus County Fair’s Agribusiness and Environmental Science Field Days.
The Center for the Environment’s Outreach Coordinator Sarah Moore and Air Quality Outreach Coordinator Shelia Armstrong gave more than 300 students from public, private and home school environments a visual lesson in the importance of clean air. Moore dropped different colored food dyes into the water, representing specific pollutants like car exhaust, industry and power plant emissions or the pollutants from household products.
They discussed what they could do to create less pollution. One boy said he would never take a shower again to reduce the electricity power plants must produce to heat the water. Moore led the students to brainstorm other ways of reducing their impact like taking shorter showers or carpooling, which would reduce auto emissions. “It was really eye-opening for them,” Moore says.
The teachers who accompanied the children showed great interest in using similar lesson plans posted on the Campaign for Clean Air’s website — — when they returned to their classrooms, according to Armstrong.
The Center for the Environment also offered an air quality display at its booth at the fair. “It was an excellent opportunity for us to get the message out to a significant number of people,” Armstrong says.