If your child has questions about air pollution or air particles, this science experiment could clear the air! This easy at-home experiment is a great way to "see" science.
What You Need:
- 2 white index cards
- Petroleum jelly or double sided invisible tape
- Marker or pencil
- Magnifying glass
What You Do:
- Most science experiments start with a question.; Which has more particles, indoor or outdoor air?
- Have your child prepare to collect air particles with two white index cards. She can write “Indoor Air” on one card and “Outdoor Air” on the other.
- She should smear petroleum jelly or put double sided invisible tape on a large area in the middle of each card. Air particles will land on the sticky areas.
- Have her place the “Inside” card on a flat surface inside the house like a window sill or table. The card should be in an open room (not a closet), and should not be moved during the experiment.
- She can put the “Outside” card on a flat surface outside, such as a patio table or chair. She should put a rock on one corner of the card to secure it. The experiment should be conducted when there’s no rain or snow being forecast.
- Let the cards sit for about a week; your child can examine the sticky areas each day with her magnifying glass.
- After 6 or 7 days, have her compare which card collected more particles on the sticky surfaces.
- Explain that air has fine particles which cannot be seen without a powerful microscope. But she will have noticed other particles. Indoor air particles come from cooking, mold, pets, and humans. She will have noticed more particles on the outdoor card; they come from soil, pollen, forest fires, cars, trucks, and other vehicles. In general, air has more particles and is more polluted outside of houses than inside houses.
- If she enjoyed this experiment, she could next compare air particles in different rooms of her house, or measure indoor and outdoor particles for two weeks. A scientist is always curious!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.