Pollution - Air - Land - Water?


How clean is the air you breathe? 

  1. Take two clean containers and fill each half full with distilled water. 
  2. Place one outside uncovered and one covered for thirty days on a roof or second story window ledge. 
  3. As the water evaporates, keep adding more. 
  4. Do not do this in the winter with a glass container. 
  5. At the end of this time observe both containers of water.


Container covered:



Container uncovered:



From where did the material in the water come?



     An average of 20,000 pounds of dust settles on every square mile of land each month.



  1. You may also collect dust by creating a damp cloth collector. Arrange a white cloth on a clean flat piece of plastic with the other end inserted into a jar and submerged in distilled water so the water will wick out onto the exposed cloth on the board.
  2. Cover the container with the water with plastic wrap so the water inside is not exposed to the outside air.
  3. Place them on a roof or window ledge. 
  4.   Replace the distilled water as it evaporates. 
  5. Observe the cloth for two weeks. 
  6. Notice changes.




When there is snow on the ground notice the snow for several days. What do you notice?

What are sources of air pollution?












Many people drive automobiles.  Do they pollute?



Experiment with adult supervision. Tail pipes get hot.

  1. Take a board and cover it with a wet white cloth. 
  2. Prop it up next to an automobile's exhaust. 
  3. NO NOT touch the HOT tail pipe. 
  4. This experiment will work best when the car is first started and the engine is cold. 
  5. Observe.




What happens if the United States government requires automobile manufacturers to decrease the amount of exhaust pollution of cars but the total number of cars being driven is increased?



How could steam, solar, or electric cars decrease pollution?


What other problems might this create?


Did we ever have steam or electric cars in the U.S.?  If so when?


If we switched to steam, solar, or electric cars what industries would be affected?


What people in your town would be out of work?


What new opportunities for jobs would there be in your town ?


What would be the main disadvantage of electric cars?



How healthy is the land in your neighborhood?

Find examples of land slumping or erosion around your school or town. 


Can you make a model to show how this happens? 


Try using some old pizza trays, cake pans, sand, gravel, dirt...

With a pair of splash sticks check one area of the playground where there is plenty of grass and one where there is no grass. 

During a rain storm how high does the soil splash?

Grassy ground                    inches                      

Not grassy ground                          inches



Try this by laying a flat board onto the ground.  How far is the dirt splashed onto the board? 


Splash erosion will move dirt up or sideways so that it may be washed away in a gulley or stream. 

In a gully on the school grounds place a colored line of sand or pebbles across the gully. 

Sand may be colored by mixing it with colored chalk. 

After the rain storm what has happened to them?



Garbage is an important form of land pollution. 

In your town is your garbage burned, buried, composted, used as land fill, or other?


What things in your garbage could be saved or salvaged?


What things in your garbage are recycled?


What things in your garbage could be recycled?


What things in your garbage could be composted?


What laws could your town or state pass that could cut down on the amount or garbage produced by your town?


Collect various items of garbage and bury them about eight inches deep.


Record the items here.

Go back in about eight months and dig it up.  What items are left?

Describe them here.




What is the source of water for your town?

How is the water treated so that it is safe to drink?


Take a tour of the city treatment plant to find the answer.


Bring in water from a lake and stream. 

How can you make it safe to drink?



    How is sewage treated in your town?


Visit your towns sewage treatment plant and find the answers.


How does your town make sure that sewage and garbage from your community or other communities does not pollute the water supply?


During floods the water supply is often polluted by sewage. 

If this happened in your town how would you treat the water so that it was safe to drink?




Think of other activities that you can do that are related to ecology and pollution.



Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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