Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

An Air Pollution & Shoe Box Science Project

    Reading and Testing Locations

    • Carry out background research into air pollution and the factors that contribute to the air being filled with particles. Consider areas in your local community, neighborhood or even household where you think there is likely to be high concentrations of air pollution. Based upon your reading, select four different locations where you will leave shoe boxes, which, when set up correctly, will act as air pollution meters. Choose four places where you think air-pollution levels will be noticeably different from one another, and note in your log book both your hypothesis and why you chose certain locations for air-pollution testing.

    Setting up Shoe Boxes

    • Set up your four air pollution testing shoe boxes by first removing the lids and pressing one hole into the end of each box using an awl or hole punch. Thread an approximately 12-inch length of string through the hole in each box. Stick a 6-by-6-inch square of wax paper or poster board inside the center of each shoe box, using white tack or another adhesive. Coat the poster board or wax paper with a layer of petroleum jelly before taking boxes to the four locations you have selected. Hang the boxes somewhere logical, where there is plenty of air flow. If you are hanging a box in your yard, for example, you could hang it on a tree branch.

    Collecting and Studying

    • Leave your four shoe boxes in place for at least two days, as they require a sufficient amount of time to collect air particles. After at least two days, gather in your shoe boxes and remove the squares of wax paper or poster board from the box. Discard the boxes and study the 6-by-6-inch squares underneath a microscope. Count the number of particles you can see on each wax paper of poster board square, and note the number next to the location of the box.

    Showing Results

    • Compare the number of air-pollution particles accumulated on each of your testing squares. Look back at your hypothesis and see how accurate your predictions were. Plot a simple bar graph, with one clearly labelled bar for each location in which you tested air pollution. Enlarge your bar chart so that it can be viewed from distance, which is ideal if you are preparing your project for the school science fair or a class presentation.

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