What Is Air Pollution?

What is Air Pollution?

There are two videos to choose from to learn about air pollution.

The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects in the Projects section.

Take A Deeper Dive!


Create a Map of Worldwide Air Pollution Levels

Do you know where in the world has the lowest air quality? How about your hometown?

iQAirmaps the quality of air around the world. First, use the map to find out the status of air quality in your local area. Add this information to this world map outline>

Now choose 10 cities around the world and add their names, and air pollution index figures, to your map. Feel free to add any other places which are significant to you.

Use the Air Quality Index to colour code each of the cities.

IMAGE: “air-quality-index” by California Air Resources Board is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Now that your map is complete, can you see any patterns? Were there any surprises? 

Remember to include a copy of your completed map in your portfolio.

Make Slime Boogers!

Our bodies are amazing! They can protect us from some forms of air pollution. Inside your nose are lots of little hairs called cilia. These work with mucus (the slimy stuff!) to capture dirt particles before they can enter our body. When we cough, sneeze or blow our nose, we are helping our bodies stay clean.

You will need:

  • PVA Glue
  • Food Colouring (yellow or green)
  • Water 
  • Contact lens solution 
  • Glass jar x2 (one for stirring your solution, one for your contact solution)
  • Sequins, glitter, or any other small particles you might like to include

Health & Safety!

  • This can be a messy experiment, so please remember to cover any surfaces before starting. 
  • Borax (contact solution) should be used under the supervision of an adult. Wash your hands after handling your slime.

Note: Borax isn’t available in all countries due to health and safety. Borax Substitute won’t work in this experiment so we recommend you use contact lens solution instead.

To make your own ‘boogers’ follow this method:

Remember to add a booger photo to your portfolio!


Investigate Air Pollution in Your Local Area

One of the ways humans can negatively impact ecosystems is by creating air pollution. Air pollution comes from many sources including transport and industrial practices.  

As we breathe, we not only take in oxygen, but also many different airborne particles such as dust or soot. These particles also affect the plants and non-human animals in an ecosystem. These particles are referred to as polluting particles, or particulate matter, and can be solid or liquid. 

In this experiment, you will look at the levels of particulate matter in your local area. It is important to remember that this experiment will not give a complete picture of the air pollution levels around you. Many particles are simply too small to see with the naked eye. It will, however, show the larger particles. These are particularly damaging to plant life, as they cover leaves and slow the process of photosynthesis (where plants use light energy to create energy to grow).

You will need:

  • Vaseline
  • String
  • Black permanent marker
  • Milk/juice carton
  • Hole punch
  • Magnifying lens
  • Digital camera


Follow the method outlined on Science Buddies.com and make a record of the data you collect. Be sure to take photographs of your results.

Use this template from montgomeryschoolsmd.org to complete a scientific investigation report.

Include a copy of your report, and photographs of your results, in your portfolio.

Advanced Project(s)

Choose at least one.

Recreate a Moment in History

In 1952, The Great Smog of London contained such high levels of particulate matter, that 12,000 people died. It has taken scientists many years to investigate why the smog was so deadly. You can read more about this here .


Imagine you are living in London during The Great Smog. Write a short play or monologue about your experience. Include as much information about your environment as you can; What would it smell like? What would you hear? What problems would it cause for you? Your goal is to transport your audience to that moment and help them get a window into the events happening in London.

Think about:

  • Why this moment matters
  • What you want your reader/watcher to remember
  • How to capture the atmosphere
  • How to convey the power of the message

Write your script, and then cast and perform (or video record) your play or monologue.

Upload the script or the video to your portfolio.

Design the City of the Future

In early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic quarantines led to a massive reduction in air pollution worldwide. With smog becoming a major issue in many sites worldwide, the reduction in pollution levels during 2020 highlighted the negative effects of air pollution. This is now driving more research into methods to reduce pollution levels.

How might cities of the future be designed to ensure low levels of air pollution?

Research some of the innovative ways scientists and architects are working together to design cities of the future. Some interesting ideas are outlined in the videos below:

Present your city design as a drawing, PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation, or a model. Remember to include a copy of your plans in your portfolio.


Read Aloud Book(s)