DAY 19-21: MOCK ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIONS
Another activity for my class is to conduct mock environmental investigations of homes / buildings. Here students can use the following information on the U.S. EPA Standards Data Sheet in order to identify if an agent meets its standard. Students will work in groups of 2 or 3 and they will each be given EPA inspector buttons to wear. They can give their EPA inspector agency a specific name only for their group. First, they will need to familiarize themselves with the U.S. EPA Standards Data Sheet making sure they know each type of pollution and its correct unit. Next, they will be given different layouts for mock environmental investigations of homes / buildings. Each group needs to analyze the information given and compare it to the U.S. EPA Standards Data Sheet. After a comparison is made, the group can determine if the pollution pose a mild or serious threat, or no threat at all. They may then begin their lab report which entails: Problem, Hypothesis, Observations, Steps of Experiment, Data, Analysis of Data, Conclusion, and Criticism. Each group will work on their own mock investigations and may present their lab report in different ways. The lab report also needs to include: How did the pollution get to that area? Why were certain pollution levels higher than the standards? What can be done to stop this pollution? What can be done to prevent further pollution of this type? What detrimental effects could this type of pollution have on living things?
In summary, with this activity, students will be given various statistics of buildings, concentrations of possible pollutants, and information on products or procedures in the building that could cause pollution. The class needs to identify the pollutants that are causing problems, where specifically in the building are the problems, can the pollutants spread, if so how and where, what are possible consequences of these pollutants, are they mild or serious, and what methodology would they use to remediate the problems? With this activity, students will be measuring and converting scientific measurements using ppm, ppb, mcg, pCi, and forms of area and volume, and they will get practice in an interdisciplinary activity requiring mathematics and scientific skills. Additionally, students will need to use problem-solving techniques in order to determine cause and effect and to develop solutions based on observation and experimentation. This allows the students to work at their own pace and to use their own knowledge to approach a problem from different angles. Furthermore, as the class writes up a lab report from their findings, they will need to present it professionally as they are acting as environmental inspectors. This written report and oral presentation combine the language arts skills and scientific skills to make another interdisciplinary activity.