Students Learn About Air Quality from School Garden

Oct 23, 2015

Ground-level ozone is a pollutant that damages plant and human health. Students at Shamrock Gardens Elementary can see this first hand by monitoring their ozone garden right outside their classroom!

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On Friday October 16th, I assisted with a presentation to three classes of fourth graders at Shamrock Gardens (approx. 75 students). Students learned about air quality by viewing a short PowerPoint about what ground-level ozone is and how it is formed. They also learned to recognize the symptoms of ozone damage on cut-leaf coneflower, a plant that is sensitive to ozone pollution.

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Eventually the lesson moved outdoors into the school ozone garden so students could see impacts of poor air quality directly on their plants. Each class separated into two groups and rotated through two garden learning stations. At one station, students saw how scientists set up an experiment to monitor sensitive plants for ozone damage and record the information collected on a data sheet. Six plants had been labeled last June and after the hot, dry, summer only three plants were still alive.

At another garden station, the children had fun viewing cut-leaf coneflower leaves through their very own hand lens. The challenge: could they find the leaf with ozone damage? Look for a leaf with tiny purple dots just on the top surface of the leaf but not on the underside…YES! That’s it!!!


Students were so excited to be outside and there was so much to see in the garden. Shamrock Gardens also has a pollinator garden and butterflies were fluttering about while caterpillars were munching on leaves. They showed me a caterpillar with black and red spikes, very dramatic. A student found a chrysalis on one of the leaves in the ozone garden. It was a great day to be in the garden with Shamrock students. Learn more about Ozone Gardens.

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This blog was written by Mary Stauble, Clean Air Carolina’s Clear the Air for Kids! Coordinator