How can a state help students, who are the next generation of drivers, consumers, and decision makers, become better critical thinkers and be aware of how to solve complex environmental issues? The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Air Quality’s education and outreach program, NC Air Awareness, created a series of activities and engaging videos to help teachers do just that. By leveraging its mission of reducing air pollution through voluntary actions by individuals and organizations, NC Air Awareness seeks to empower youth through “It’s Our Air” to not only do their part but also become effective influencers.
It’s Our Air was the result of a multi-year collaboration of teachers, curriculum writers, non-formal educators, industry representatives, nonprofit representatives, and other stakeholders. The free North Carolina specific curriculum creates an air quality unit for the state’s high school level Earth and Environmental Science teachers or STEM classrooms.
It’s Our Air is designed to help students develop a better understanding of the science and technology that helps explain, monitor, predict and protect air quality. This is accomplished through student engagement in a variety of hands-on activities and dynamic video segments. The comprehensive curriculum can be used as is or adapted by teachers to fit their course needs. All activities are aligned with the NC Essential Standards for high school Earth and Environmental Science courses.
The curriculum consists of three modules: Air Pollutants and Their Sources, Predicting Air Pollution, and Problems and Solutions. These modules contain 15 structured, hands-on classroom and field activities in which students use data analysis, experimentation, creativity, research, and mapping to understand air quality science and issues. Nine short videos are associated with specific concepts or activities with the goal of enhancing learning via animated illustration of scientific concepts, virtual field trips, and interviews with scientists. Videos feature an engaging host/teacher and a diverse group of North Carolina high school students.
It’s Our Air also includes teacher tips from an award-winning Earth Science teacher, including orientation videos, activity grouping, and scheduled workshops where teachers can earn continuing education credits.
Results to Date:
- It’s Our Air launched at a kick-off event with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in April 2017.
- North Carolina Division of Air Quality has conducted numerous presentations to educators and is actively scheduling teacher workshops across the state.
- More than 45,000 visits have been logged to the itsourair.org website since its launch.