Breathe in. You are breathing in life. Without air, we would not be able to live. The air which surrounds the earth is called the atmosphere. The atmosphere we breathe is made up of molecules (tiny units) of gasses. The main gasses in our atmosphere are nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (about 21%). Most of the earth’s atmosphere is within the first ten miles from the surface, but the further from the surface the atmosphere gets thinner and thinner until it merges with outer space. The air in our atmosphere is important for almost all life on earth including plants and animals. Plants need carbon dioxide and with sunlight, give off oxygen in a process called photosynthesis. People and animals need oxygen in their blood to live, which is taken in through the lungs. On average people breathe in 20,000 liters or 20,000 breaths in and out everyday!!
Catch your breath! Breathe air!
Activity 1 – How heavy is air?
Air is actually fluid in that it moves fluidly. As we live and breathe, we are actually displacing air molecules as we move through them. In a way, we are ‘swimming’ in air. Air is matter and therefore has weight. Watch Balancing Balloons: Air Has Weight and How Heavy is Air?, the TEDed lesson to learn more about air molecules. Air molecules create high and low pressure as it pushes on us and on weather systems or moves from high altitude to low altitude. When we breathe we breathe in air molecules. We say the air is heavy when it is full of water. We call this humidity.
Activity 3 – Air Quality
Print a world map. Research the most polluted areas in the world. Make and color your map showing which areas have the poorest air quality with shades of brown. What did you find? Where are the areas where the air is the most polluted? Are they urban or rural? What causes pollution?
It’s all about the air!
Activity 4 – Layers of the atmosphere
Take a look at the earth’s atmospheric layers. The atmospheric layer closest to us is the troposphere. The next layer is the stratosphere. Above the stratosphere is the mesosphere. The fourth layer is the thermosphere. The air is thinner higher in the atmosphere because the pressure is lower the higher you go up. Make a poster of the layers and show details about each one.
Know your atmospheric layers!
Activity 5 – Smog
Write a short paper defining smog. Who first coined the word? What does it mean? Where does it accumulate? Is it seasonal? Make a cover to your paper showing pictures of smog. Include in your typed paper at least five paragraphs (introduction, definition, types of smog, location of smog, and effects of smog). Include a bibliography of resources.
- Earth is the only planet that we know that has an atmosphere that sustains human life as we know it.
- Air is a:
- The largest contributors to world pollution are:
- EPA stands for the:
- There is more air lower or higher in the earth's atmosphere?
- Air Apparent James Turrell
- Air Ingredients Chart
- Air in Motion
- Air Pressure NASA
- Air Quality
- Air Quality Index
- Binisystems: Building with Air
- Blur Building Diller + Scofidio
- Breathing Easy on the Space Station
- Inside Wind Tunnels
- Interactive AIR NOW map
- K-4 ESSEA Air + Climate
- PBS Eekoworld Air
- Sally Ride Air & Weather
- Sea Breezes Animation
- TEDed How Heavy is Air?
- Video Balancing Balloons Air has Weight
- Video Bill Nye the Science Guy What is Wind?
- Video Kinetic Sculpture
- Video Understanding the Jet Stream and Rossby Waves
- What is air?
- What is air pollution?
- Wind Energy