In the Air and All Around

based on 8 ratings
Author: Nancy Rogers Bosse

3rd – 5th grades 

Difficulty of Project

Less than $5.00 

Safety Issues
Material Availability

Readily available or easily purchased at the grocery store 

Approximate Time Required to Complete the Project

Three days to collect the data; one additional day to prepare the chart


To investigate the local air quality 

Materials and Equipment

  • 4 blank white index cards
  • 4 pieces of string about 8 inches in length
  • Pen
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Cotton swab
  • Small re-closeable plastic bag
  • Magnifying glass 

Background Information

Since the beginning of the Industrial Age, air pollution has been a problem. Cars and factories add to our quality of life, yet take away from our quality of air. 

In this investigation, local air quality is analyzed. 

Terms, Concepts, and Questions to Start Background Research


allergens: any substance that causes an allergic reaction; common allergens in our environment include pollen, dust, and grass 

pollution: harmful substances in the air  


Some allergens in the air are natural such as pollen, grass, and dust. Pollution is caused by unnatural substances in the air such as smoke. Both allergens and pollution affect the quality of air and how people breath. 

Research Questions
  • What causes allergens in the air?
  • What allergens are in the air we breathe?
  • Do some places have more allergens than other places?
  • What health problems do allergens cause? 

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials.
  2. Tape a piece of string to each of the index cards so that the cards can be hung in different places.
  3. Label the four cards: “Inside My House,” “In My Yard,” “In My Neighborhood,” and “Control.”
  4. Using the cotton swap, spread a thin layer of petroleum jelly one side of each card.
  5. Hang the first card somewhere in the inside of your house, the second card in your yard, and the third card somewhere in your neighborhood. Hang them somewhere where they will not be disturbed for three days.  Place the “Control” card inside the re-closeable plastic bag.
  6. After three days, gather the index cards. Use the magnifying glass to examine the cards for signs of allergens and pollution. Compare the cards to the “Control” card. Record your findings. 



“Ozone, Air Quality, and Asthma” at 



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