Clean Air Act Activity
Students will act as marketing directors tasked with choosing a historical event to be the focus of a public awareness campaign celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Clean Air Act. Students will research air quality trends since the passage of the Act and explore multi-media sources to learn about three historical events that set the stage for its passage: the 1948 Donora Smog, the mid-century development of smog in Los Angeles, and the publication of Silent Spring. After choosing an event to highlight, students will write a report supporting their choice. As an extension, students can create the marketing campaign.
Is air pollution getting better or worse in the United States (activity); in North Carolina (video)
How did historical events set the stage for the passage of the Clean Air Act?
What role does regulation play in improving or maintaining air quality?
TIME NEEDED: For AP and honors classes, this activity will take two full 90-minute block periods. Allow two and a half block periods for academic earth science classes.
Video: NC Clean Smokestacks Act (included)
Access to the internet
Material for the 1948 Donora Smog
Radio piece (available online)
Historical photos (included)
Letter from a citizen (included)
Material for Smog in Los Angeles in 1940s-50s
Article (available online)
Historical photos (included)
Political cartoon (included)
Materials for Silent Spring
Excerpt from Silent Spring (included)
News video (available online)
Political cartoon (available online)
TOPICS: air pollution regulations, history of air pollution regulations, the Clean Air Act, NC Clean Smokestacks Act
TYPES: performance task, critical analysis of media
NC ESSENTIAL STANDARDS for Earth/Environmental Science:
EEn.2.5.5 Explain how human activities affect air quality.
EEn.2.7.3 Explain how human activities affect the biosphere.
EEn.2.8 Evaluate human behaviors in terms of how likely they are to ensure the ability to live sustainably on Earth.
HS.SI.1.1 Evaluate resources for reliability. (Reliability can be determined by currency, credibility, authority, etc. depending on the curriculum topic.)
HS.SI.1.2 Evaluate resources for point of view, bias, values, or intent of information
NC Clean Smokestacks Act Video
This video reviews the history of the North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act through interviews with key figures who participated in its passage through an amazing collaboration of industry, government and environmental interests. They explain why the bill was introduced, how it was enacted, and how it has benefited North Carolina’s air quality and the health of its residents. The video also highlights how the Act has impacted a teenager with asthma.
Video downloads are able to display subtitles. We recommend using VLC media player for optimal playback of subtitles.
Clean Air Act - Teacher to Teacher Tips
The quick video below has tips for doing this activity from Mark Townley, an award-winning, North Carolina high school teacher. Mark helped develop It’s Our Air and has used each of these activities with his students.
OTHER MODULE 3 (AIR POLLUTION PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS) ACTIVITIES AND VIDEOS
3-4 Regulations: Clean Air Act & NC Clean Smokestacks Act (this activity)