Air Quality - Lesson 5: How Can We Tell What the Quality of the Air Is Today?

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, the Internet is used as a resource for students to access daily (and hourly) information about air quality. The National Air Quality Index provides color-coded information about levels of air pollution and health effects. The color codes of the AQI, posted daily, can be found on the Internet and in some newspapers. The UV index alerts people to levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Students use the Internet to find out about the UV index in Michigan and around the country.

Students answer two essential questions: What can the Air Quality Index (AQI) and the UV index tell us about conditions outdoors? Why are they important to your health?


Students will be able to:

1. Track the Air Quality Index (AQI) and relate it to

weather conditions and impacts on health.

2. Explore regional air quality trends using the Internet.

3. Relate UV index levels to health considerations.


Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations 

Grade 6-7 Science 

• Describe the origins of pollution in the atmosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere and how pollution impacts habitats, climate change, threatens or endangers species E.ES.07.42

• Describe the atmosphere as a mixture of gases. E.FE.07.12

HS Biology 

• Examine the negative impact of human activities. B3.4C

Advance Preparation

1. Secure a computer laboratory for your students and a projection system. To become familiar with the needed web sites, read the teacher resource on Accessing Air Quality Data from MDEQ and U.S. EPA. Look at the MEECS Air Quality CD for resources to enhance the lesson. If a computer laboratory is not available, plan alternate ways to present the lesson.

2. After the students have learned about the Air Quality Index, set the proper AQI color on the Air Quality Forecast Wheel each day.

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