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Students learn while monitoring their environments.

Environmental science students at three high schools in Texas' Clear Creek School District generate useful data while they learn by monitoring ozone levels at their campuses, the Houston Chronicle reports. Using equipment supplied by the University of Houston's Environmental Institute of Houston, the teens send all the site-specific information to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The commission uses the data to help spot trends and issue ozone alerts. Students can see the ozone measurements, which update every 10 minutes, on TV monitors placed in the hallways

"Now that we are able to scientifically gauge what is in the environment, it allows us all to take a step back and get the big picture and realize what we need to do to help improve the environment," says Diane Dang, a senior at Clear Lake High. "Each student in the environmental class is able now to go home and bring the information they learn in class from testing and monitoring to their family, and that radiates across the community."

Schools use the smog data to determine when to keep students from engaging in strenuous outdoor activity. And the data can be used in other courses as well. "In the biology classes, they can talk about the effects of the environment on the human body, the effects of ozone on the lungs and how it affects asthma," suggests district science coordinator Terri Berry. "They can study how ozone is produced in the environment in chemistry classes."

In addition to tracking ozone levels, Clear Lake teens also make monthly checks of pollution levels in Horsepin Bayou, which meanders about 100 yards past teacher Steve Moncla's classroom. Like students at five other area schools do at other waterways, they report the bayou's water acidity, clarity, depth, oxygen content, salinity, temperature and transparency to Texas State University-San Marcos. The data eventually makes its way all the way to the EPA.

"I felt like we were trying to save the animals' lives," says junior Emeka Nnabuife, who helps monitor five creeks around nearby Dobie High. "I'm actually making a difference, not only with the community but also with animal life and plant life."

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Title Annotation:Grades 6-12
Publication:Curriculum Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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