Air Quality Lesson Plan

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

The quality of the air affects all of us in one way or another. Your students will learn about air quality as they read and discuss a text lesson, create air quality awareness posters, and take a quiz.

At the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define air quality index
  • describe how the air quality index is determined
  • identify ways to help improve the air quality index


1.5 - 2 hours

Curriculum Standards

  • HS-ESS2-4 - Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth's systems result in changes in climate.
  • HS-ESS3-5 - Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth's systems.



  • Begin by asking your students what they think is in the air they breathe every day. Allow several students to answer and discuss their answers.
  • Tell your students that we actually take a measurement of the quality of the air and they will learn all about that as they read and discuss the Air Quality Index: Definition & Uses text lesson.
  • Pass the lesson out to your students and read it together as a class. Have different students each read a paragraph in the lesson. Stop periodically to discuss the text.
  • Start from the beginning and read through the end of the 'What is Air Quality?' section. Ask and discuss the following as a class:
    • What is the air quality index?
    • What is the abbreviation for air quality index?
    • How many points are on the US AQI?
    • What range is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups?
    • How does the AQI change during the day?
    • What affect does temperature have on air quality?
    • How does the wind affect air quality?
  • Continue reading through the end of the 'Uses for the Air Quality Index' section. Now, ask and discuss the following as a class:
    • What is the main use of the Air Quality Index?
    • Which people are considered to be part of the sensitive group?
    • What might be suggested if the air quality is extremely low to the point of an air quality crisis?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' to your students, emphasizing important points. Answer any questions they have at this point.

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