Strand V
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Earth and Space Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand V
Content Standard 3
All students will investigate and describe what makes up weather and how it changes from day to day, from season to season, and over long periods of time; explain what causes different kinds of weather; and analyze the relationships between human activities and the atmosphere. (Atmosphere and Weather)


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3
High School


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School
Benchmark 4

Explain the impact of human activities on the atmosphere and explain ways that individuals and society can reduce pollution.

Benchmark Clarification

Air pollution comes from a variety of sources. Industrial emissions are a major factor.

Students will:

  • Identify those industries that are major contributors to air pollution
  • Analyze the general impact that corrective measures would have on the polluting industry and the cost of their products
  • Give examples of how their daily activities can both positively and negatively affect air quality
  • Identify how their decisions impact air quality

Note: While outdoor air pollution is important and should be studied, there really needs to be more focus on the origin, characteristics, and health effects of indoor air pollution given that we spend 90% of our time indoors. See website under resources.

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 4
Key Concept
Air pollution:

  • car exhaust
  • industrial emissions
  • smog

See Resource use (SCI.V.1.HS.4).

Related effects:

  • breathing problems
  • acid rain
  • enhanced global warming
  • deforestation
  • ozone depletion


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 4
Real World Context
Examples of human activities that affect the atmosphere, including use of aerosol spray cans, discharge from smoke stacks, car exhaust, burning leaves and wood in stoves and fireplaces, climate change, global warming

Actions including:

  • turning off lights
  • turning down heat
  • tuning up cars
  • filling tires
  • driving at consistent speeds
  • mandating higher fuel efficiency
  • energy saving from recycling


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 4
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: What human activities produce pollution and how can we control air quality?

Focus Question: What industries in my area affect air quality? What are their effects on the environment?

After a discussion of various kinds of air pollution, each student will do the following:

  • Use the internet or other resources to help identify local sources of air pollution.
  • Determine the identity of the pollutants present and their effect on the environment.
  • Propose possible remedies to the problem.
  • Share their information with members of the class.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.HS.1), (SCI.I.1.HS.4), (SCI.I.1.HS.5).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1.HS.1), (SCI.II.1.HS.4), (SCI.II.1.HS.5), (SCI.II.1.HS.6).


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 4
Assessment Example

The teacher will present the following scenario:

A company that offers many jobs and other economic benefits makes a presentation to a community to get support to build a factory within that community. The factory will produce airborne pollutants (e.g., particulates, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, etc.).

Working in small groups, students will develop a list of pros and cons as to whether this industry is a viable addition to their community. Each pro and con listed must be described. Possible health effects of the pollutants must be described. Each group will provide a recommendation as to whether the factory should be allowed in their community and the reasons for the recommendation..

Note: Teachers may select one or more specific industries that may be realistically located in the students’ community. Already developed realistic scenarios are available on the web.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Correctness of pollutant identification

Identifies pollutants and/or health effects poorly.

Identifies most pollutants and/or health effects correctly.

Identifies all pollutants and/or health effects correctly.

Identifies all pollutants and/or explains resulting health effects correctly.

Correctness of positive aspects

Identifies some pros.

Identifies most pros.

Identifies all pros.

Identifies and explains all pros.

Correctness of negative aspects

Identifies some cons.

Identifies most cons.

Identifies all cons.

Identifies and explains all cons.

Completeness of recommendation

Recommends a course of action without support.

Recommends a course of action with some support.

Recommends a course of action with good support.

Recommends a well- supported course of action.


Science/Strand V/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 4


Indoor Air Quality in Schools: describes the problem and outlines strategies for improving air quality. Links to radon pollution are also available.

EPA's national air quality trends: “This is the twenty-fourth annual report on air pollution trends in the United States issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

Deposition of Air Pollutants to the great lakes: in accordance with the Clean Air Act, the EPA “... focuses on research and activities in specific water bodies to further understand and promote reductions of overall contaminant loadings to the Great Waters.”

EPA Air Web Page: access maps summarizing EPA air pollution data.

Causes and effects of climatic and environmental change through the use of satellite data. MESTA,00.1.

Does Weather Happen Randomly?

Great Lakes Information Network.

Model of the air pollution study.