The Sky is Falling

Tiffany Davidson, Sharlonne Rollin, and Nicohl Shelton

A Module for Investigative Case Based Learning in the Classroom


This unit will address Earth Science, Environmental Science, Meteorology, Math, and Process Skills. The students will generate maps of ozone concentrations, graph air quality indices, and propose solutions to problems with the ozone and air quality, specifically smog.



The state of Georgia is suffering from enormously high levels of smog. In addition, the climate is dangerously hot and humid. It has been suggested that the high levels of smog and hot weather can be attributed to the high volume of automobiles in use in Georgia, as well as the depletion of ozone via increased use of aerosols. State officials, along with the EPA are proposing two solutions to Georgia's problem:

(1) Limiting the use of aerosol sprays in households and businesses, and
(2) Restricting the number of vehicles that may be in use per household during a given period of time.

At this time, the state of Georgia is looking for qualified individuals to develop and implement a plan of action based on the above two proposed solutions. Qualified individuals should possess 3-5 years of working experience in the areas of environmental science and air quality/pollution. The term of the assignment will be five to seven years with a salary of $200K per year. If interested, please contact A. Jackson at (404) 543-2100.

Be prepared to submit a detailed plan of action proposal.

Learning Objectives:

Students will:

1. Analyze and interpret data.

2. Make oral and visual presentations working cooperatively and demonstrating critical thinking skills.

3. Investigate causes of smog and ozone depletion and propose solutions.


Relation to Science Education Standards: State of Georgia

Content Standards/Process Standards:

5.1 Identifies ways human beings cause and can correct pollution of water bodies, the atmosphere (acid rain, ozone layer, and greenhouse effect) and the land (soil pollution, and chemical/nuclear waste).

5.2 Examines the effects pollution from cities have on weather and the effect of burning fuels on the atmosphere, melting of polar ice caps, and predicting earthquakes.
Recognizes and investigates weather phenomena and their effect on the Earth's surface.

19.1 Interprets weather maps and makes forecasts.


Elements of ICBL

1. Case:
Arrange students in groups of 3-4, read the case together and entertain any questions they might have. Some possible questions could be:

· What is ozone and how is it depleted?
· What causes smog?
· What are specific examples of aerosol sprays?
· What component of aerosol sprays are pollutants?

After reading the questions, let them get started on their plan of actions and the activities given in the website.

2. Resources & 3. Investigative Activity:
Students will be provided with information from these websites in order to prepare a detailed plan of action proposal. Students will also do activities to further their knowledge in the area of Environmental Science.

Each site has a different activity that they should do to aid in their understanding of the concepts of air quality, smog, and the ozone layer.

This site will provide information about air quality, pollution, and other environmental issues for your state. Students can search this site for further information. (Keyword: Smog)

Students can look up air quality indices for the past 6 months and develop a graph interpreting this data.

This website uses a rating systems to indicate the environmental air quality of your community. Students will be able to access this website, rate the quality of their community and present their findings in the form of a graph.
(Go to OZONE MAPS, then click on the Maps Generator)

Students can access this site and generate a map of their state with the different ozone levels.

This site deals with human interactions with the environment. Students can perform a pollution experiment, which estimates the effects human beings have on pollution and the environment.

4. Assessment:
Students will be assessed on their ability to do the following:

· Display high levels of team work in the creation of an action plan.

· Successfully transfer observable data onto graphs and charts.

· Effectively present and defend their action plan to the clean air committee (role played by the remainder of the class)


Suggested schedule:

Introduce students to the case and give them 1 week to complete their plan of action, and activities from these sites.


In addition to their plan of action, they should have graphs from the air quality indices over the past 6 months, the ozone-generated map of the state or city, information explaining smog (cause and effect), and information on the ozone layer and ways in which it can be depleted. All of the above should be compiled and displayed on a project board.


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