World Environment Day began in 1974 and is now widely celebrated in over 100 countries across the world. Each year, a different country hosts the events and gets to select a theme.
This year, China is the host and the focus is air pollution, with the hashtag #BeatAirPollution. As they remind us: ‘We can’t stop breathing, but we can do something about the quality of air we breathe.” - http://greeningtheblue.org/event/world-environment-day
Their research tells us the following facts about the air we breathe:
The official website for World Environment Day 2019 can be found at: https://www.worldenvironmentday.global/?xv=1&c=1
This site breaks down the air pollution issue into 5 categories: Agriculture, Industry, Household, Transportation and Waste. It is important to recognize that we are all affected by air pollution. According to the experts, human activity is responsible for much of the harmful content in the air we breathe, including such substances as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, hydrocarbons, and lead. Additionally, natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and sand and dust storms sometimes compromise the world’s air.
Note: Before this lesson, ask each child to bring in a small clean canning jar with a band-type lid. You will also need the following ingredients: baking soda, paper coffee filters or muffin cups and either vanilla or an essential oil. You will also need a Tablespoon (15 mL) measure and stir sticks or spoons.
Gather students and ask:
Watch the following air pollution video with your students: Air Pollution: Causes, Effects and Solutions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Q7y_xjR5E
Explain that our bodies need clean air in order to survive. Sometimes we can smell things like fertilizers or animal manure or some smells from big factories. We can also sometimes see the smoke coming from smoke stacks in houses and factories.
Inside our houses, some of the things that pollute our air are things that we use every day like hair dryers, spray paint, nail polish, and cleaning supplies. Even the dander from our pets can affect the air and cause health and breathing issues for some people! Many people use air freshener sprays to cover up those yucky smells but that can cause problems too!
Explain that most air fresheners that we spray from a bottle or can contain chemicals that actually aren’t good for us or the air we breathe.
Tell the students that there are some natural products that we can use that will help to cover up some of the nasty smells we get in school, in our homes and in our neighbourhoods.
Explain that they are going to make an air fresher that will help their classroom to smell nice and won’t be harmful to the air we breathe.
Here are the instructions:
And that’s it! You have created your own natural air freshener.
Have students take it home and explain what they have created and why. Encourage them to talk to their families about other ways to reduce air pollution.
Here is a great site with more ideas about World Environment Day 2019: https://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/ce/CE0454.pdf
Explain that World Environment Day 2019 is hosted by China this year, and the theme is Air Pollution.
Have students view the UN Environment video “Walk Home” and ask them to jot down any examples of air pollution that they see. https://youtu.be/UF1GzWSzsss
Share their responses, making a complete list on a chart or white board. Ask the class what they think is the message of this video.
Explain that we all need clean air in order to survive. As more people inhabit the earth and more industry appears and transportation increases, our air quality is being affected. Some people have sensitivity to certain things in the air, such as dust, aerosol sprays, smoke, and even pet dander. People who have allergies or asthma are even more affected by the air they breathe.
In groups, ask students to brainstorm slogans or key words that might make an impact with everyone and make them think about the importance of clean air. Share the responses and explain that the task for today is to make posters that help people in their school, home and community to be more aware of air pollution.
Provide poster boards, magazines, newspapers, and any other materials that might be helpful in creating a unique poster that would stand out from any others that may be posted. The following site has some great ideas for impactful posters:
Share and then collect ideas as to where to place the posters for the best impact. If possible, deliver and post them around the community.
Close by reminding students that even small steps like the posters they made today can have a big impact on the air quality and their health in the future!
As a class, view the following video from CBC news. Have student jot down the main messages from the video as they view:
After viewing, ask students to share their observations. Ask:
Invite students to find out more about the air quality index and to prepare a short presentation for the class. They can work alone, in pairs or in small groups. The following sites may be helpful for online research:
Their presentation could take the form of a written report, an electronic slideshow, a video presentation, or a short play. Criteria for the presentation could include:
Share the presentations and discuss.
Consider sending some of the presentations to the local paper, news media, or your local politician.