The air that you breathe in your house should be safe and sound!  Let’s check to make sure!

Something in the Air

Scan this QR Code with your Phyphox sensor app to load the CO2 sensor settings for all activities in the CO2 Science Series.

Something in the Air

The Air that I Breathe

Indoor air quality explorations to keep you and your family safe!

Overview

Grades:
Time:

Subject:

5-8
50 minutes (PDQ’s + Experiment) 
50 Minutes (Challenge & Collaboration)

Environmental Science

 

The air in your home or classroom should be clean and safe. Let’s explore how we can test it and what to look for!

Background

The air that we breathe provides us with fresh oxygen needed to fuel our cells and keep us healthy.   However, when we breathe in air that might be carrying pollutants,  dangerous fumes, mold spores, or other harmful elements we can be harming our bodies!

Indoor air quality is all about making certain that our lungs are receiving fresh, clean air through appropriate building ventilation and also by monitoring things that could be harmful.

Let’s explore indoor air quality with databot™!  databot™ enables us to “see” air quality indicators such as humidity, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and CO2 levels. Let’s see if your local environment is safe and healthy as we explore further with databot™!

Objectives

By completing this experiment and conducting the scientific observations associated with it you will master the following knowledge! Good luck science explorer!

  • Indoor air quality can affect your health and your ability to concentrate.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is:
    • An invisible and odorless gas.
    • Exhaled by human beings in the process of respiration.
    • Is maintained at a healthy level in buildings through well designed ventilation (HVAC) systems.
  • Excessive levels of humidity in your indoor air (above 60% RH) can stimulate microbial activity and contribute to poor air quality.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted by a variety of chemicals into the air and can have an adverse affect on your health.
  • You can make your home and work environment safer by understanding the sources of VOCs and reducing your exposure to them.
  • Scientific sensors allow us to measure the scientific world around us with better precision and accuracy.

What You'll Need

  • IOS or Android smart device with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to connect to databot™
  • databot™ + Phypox App installed on your IOS or Android device
  • Airtight container to hold databot™ and materials for testing
  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • 2 – Plastic or Glass Containers – 1 Cup or 250 ml  

Important Terms

Air Quality:  The levels of pollutants in your surrounding air determines your air quality.  High levels of pollution, dust, or smoke would be examples of poor air quality.

Baking Soda: Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO₃) is an alkaline salt, a base, that can absorb VOCs.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2): A colorless, odorless gas naturally present in the air you breathe and is absorbed by plants in photosynthesis. There would be no animal life or green plants without carbon dioxide. Green plants use energy from the sun plus carbon dioxide and water to produce carbohydrates and oxygen

Relative Humidity: Humidity refers to the amount of moisture in the air.  High levels of humidity indoors can contribute to microbial activity which can affect indoor air quality.

HVAC: Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) refers to the technology of maintaining clean and comfortable environmental conditions in buildings and vehicles.

Indoor Air Quality: The quality of the air inside and nearby buildings that includes humidity and gas levels.

Outgassing: Giving off or releasing gases such as from paint drying and curing.  

Vinegar: A mixture of acetic acid (CH₃COOH) and water (H20) that gives off VOCs.

Volatile Organic Compounds: Chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and are emitted by substances like cleaners, paint thinner, and paints.  Levels that are too high can be harmful to your body and cause health problems.

Volume: The amount of space a substance takes up.

Prep

Read the background information and learning objectives, study the terms, and explore the additional resource links.

Ready to get started? Let's go!

Next stop – PDQ1 – that means Pretty Darn Quick. Go dog, go!

This way to PDQ1

Educator Info

Educator Info

  • If you have not scanned the Phyphox QR code for this or other CO2 science modules yet, please do so.  This will load all the required sensor settings that are used in The Cave of Dogs; Ready, Set, Reaction; Breathe; Green is Great!; and Something in the Air.  Note: If you scan this QR code twice it will add duplicates of each sensor setting.  You can delete them using the delete function.

  • Read the background information, study the terms, and explore the additional resource links.
  • Practice the PDQs and Experiment and review the accompanying educator information.
  • Review the Challenge and Collaboration extensions if of interest.

The following learning objectives are emphasized in this module:

 

  • Indoor air quality can affect your health and your ability to concentrate.
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is:
    • An invisible and odorless gas.
    • Exhaled by human beings in the process of respiration.
    • Is maintained at a healthy level in buildings through well designed ventilation (HVAC) systems.
  • Excessive levels of humidity in your indoor air (above 60% RH) can stimulate microbial activity and contribute to poor air quality.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds are emitted by a variety of chemicals into the air and can have an adverse affect on your health.
  • You can make your home and work environment safer by understanding the sources of VOCs and reducing your exposure to them.
  • Scientific sensors allow us to measure the scientific world around us with better precision and accuracy.

 

  • MS-LS1-3. Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells. (Grades 6 – 8)
  • MS-LS1-7. Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an organism.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 6 – 8)
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. (Grades 6 – 8)
  • HS-LS1-3. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that feedback mechanisms maintain homeostasis.

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions.
  • Energy and Matter. Matter is conserved because atoms are conserved in physical and chemical processes.
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter.
  • Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural or designed systems.

Engineering Practices

  • NGSS Practice 4: Analyzing and Interpreting Data
    Excerpt: When possible and feasible, students should use digital tools to analyze and interpret data. Whether analyzing data for the purpose of science or engineering, it is important students present data as evidence to support their conclusion.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.C: Organization for Matter and Energy Flow in Organisms. Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy.
  • PS3.D: Energy in Chemical Processes and Everyday Life. Cellular respiration in plants and animals involve chemical reactions with oxygen that release stored energy. In these processes, complex molecules containing carbon react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and other materials.

Acetic Acid Molecule Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Spraypaint Photo by Jean-Louis Paulin on Unsplash

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