Air Pollution Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

This lesson plan can be used to teach your students about air pollution. Students will watch an engaging video defining air pollution and explain sources and types. Discussion questions, cooperative group activities and a quiz are included.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define air pollution
  • explain the sources of air pollution
  • discuss and describe types of air pollution


1 hour for lesson, plus time for the activity and a week to collect data


  • Empty milk boxes, collected from the cafeteria by students, one for each
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • String
  • Data charts, one for each student
  • Vaseline
  • Black markers
  • Small soft ball

Key Vocabulary

  • Air pollutants
  • Air pollution
  • Point-source pollution
  • Non-point source pollution
  • Primary pollutants
  • Secondary pollutants
  • Clean Air Act of 1970
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Sulfur dioxide
  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Ozone
  • Particle matter
  • Lead

Curriculum Standards

  • NGSS Human Impacts Standard: MS-ESS3-3

Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.*

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3

Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4

Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.7.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


  • Engage students with the topic by having them stand and begin walking around the room as you play music. Encourage them to get some of their wiggles out by dancing. After a few minutes, stop the music and have students give a 'high five' to the person standing closest, then sit next to their partner.
  • Have partners share their knowledge of air pollution, recording key ideas on a piece of paper. After two minutes, tell them to identify three main things they know.
  • Now have partners join another group to create a foursome and repeat the process, allowing them to share answers before cooperatively determining three main things.
  • Repeat with an eight-person group before finally completing as a whole class. Write the three agreed-upon concepts on the board.
  • Ask:
    • What is air pollution?
    • Where does air pollution come from?
    • What are some types of air pollution?
  • Brainstorm answers to these questions with students and record on the board.
  • Now start the lesson video What Is Air Pollution? - Definition, Sources & Types and pause at 0:54.
  • Record the answer to 'What is air pollution?' on the board and have students write in notebooks.
  • Ask:
    • What are air pollutants?
    • What are some examples of air pollutants?
  • Restart the video and pause again at 2:02. Discuss and record answers to the question 'Where does air pollution come from?' then ask:
    • Can air pollution come from natural sources?
    • What are the two ways air pollution can enter the air?
    • What is an example of a primary and secondary pollutant?
  • Resume the video and pause one last time at 5:24.
  • List the six pollutants along with relevant details (print the transcript for the lesson if desired) on the board under the title 'Types of Air Pollutants.'
  • Give students a few minutes to look at the information and come up with a question. Get the 'question ball' started by choosing a student and asking them to stand up.
  • Toss the ball to the student and ask a question. The student answers then chooses another student to toss the ball to and ask a question. Repeat until all students have asked their question.
  • Play the remainder of the lesson and take the quiz as a whole group to check understanding.

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