Educator Resources for Air Defenders


The Air Defenders Educator's Kit
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Air Defenders Curriculum

The Air Defenders program sounds great, but you are not sure if you want to order the entire kit?  Below you can view selected activities and resources from the Air Defenders kit and the teacher’s activity guide, "Give Burn Barrels the Boot."  These activities and resources will give you a better understanding of what the Air Defenders program has to offer. 

Presentation Materials:

Here are some resources from the Air Defenders kit.  These resources are in various formats and may require special plug-ins or software to run.  Immediately below the following list there is a list of the software necessary to open the Air Defenders resource materials.

View or download the Air Defenders Resource Materials

» Asthma Basics PDF (31 KB) - Fact sheet on Asthma.
» Pollution Chart PDF (80 KB) - Chart of pollutants emitted from open burning fires, and alternatives to burning.
» PowerPoint PPT (4.8 MB) - Easy to follow PowerPoint presentation for kids on open burning and respiratory health.
» PowerPoint Speaking Points PDF (114 KB) - Use these great speaking points along with the Air Defenders PowerPoint presentation.
» Take home letter PDF (68 KB) - If you would like to inform the students’ parents what they are learning in school, send this letter from WEHA home with each student.
» Air Defenders Badges PDF (421 KB) - You can print off Air Defenders badges for your entire class. (Use Avery label #05294 2 1/2 inch round)

Sample Activities:

Each activity lists the objective, the time it takes to perform the activity, background information you may need to introduce to your students, materials needed, and the method of the activity.

Activity #3: "Decisions, decisions.  What’s trash, what’s not always trash, and what can we do with it?"

Approximate Time: 20 min

Objective: We want students to think critically about how we classify garbage and what it means to throw things out.  This activity requires kids to think about choices.  An information sheet on typical pollutants from burn barrels is included.

Background Information: Lots of garbage is hard to classify.  We make decisions daily about what to keep and what to toss.  How do we classify garbage?  Do we make a distinction between “real” trash (for landfills) versus other trash that we can reuse, recycle, or use for composting?

Materials Needed: none

Method: Have each student, or teams of two students, imagine disposal options for any item they see in their classroom or school.  Discuss the possible ways each item could be classified (i.e., paper: Is it “real” trash?  What about glass bottles?  Broken rulers? Worn-out chairs? Ten-year-old computers?) and what alternatives exist.  Should each item be placed in the trash? Should any of the items be burned?  Have children seen any of the items burned in an open burning fire?  What might the school do with this trash?

Standards Addressed Fulfill Wisconsin State Standards:  #A.8.5.Environmental Education.  Use the results of their investigations to develop answers, draw conclusions, and revise their personal understanding.  B.8.15. Analyze how people impact their environment through resource use.  B.8.20. Environmental Education. Identify types of waste and methods of waste reduction.

Activity #5: "How asthmatics feel when their air is polluted."

Approximate Time: 10 minutes

Objective: How does it feel to have impaired breathing?

Materials Needed: Hollow cocktail or coffee stirring straws.

Background Information: Air Pollution affects the respiratory health of everyone, regardless of age and health status.  It can harm our immune system, which is our defense system against infections.  Air pollution can also affect our airways and lungs, by reducing the amount of oxygen we take into our body.  We may experience symptoms ranging from mild irritation to the nose, eyes, and throat, to reduced ability to exercise outdoors.  Air Pollution can also increase the risk of having a respiratory infection.  Children, the elderly and persons with asthma are most affected.

Method:  Distribute one straw to each student in the class.  Ask students to pinch their noses closed and then try to breathe through this straw.  It’s hard, isn’t it?  Tell them that people with asthma often have the same experience when they inhale smoke from the burning leaves, trash, paper, wood, and anything else!

Standards Addressed Fulfill Wisconsin State Standards:  #C.8.3.Health.  Goal-setting, decision-making.  Analyze how decisions regarding health behaviors have consequences for themselves and others.  A.4.4. Social Studies.  Describe and give examples of ways in which people interact with the physical environment, including use of land, location of communities, methods of construction, and design or shelters.  C.4.1. Social Studies.  Identify and explain the individual’s responsibilities to family, peers, and the community, including the need for civility and respect for diversity.

Activity #7: "Where are our landfills and recycling centers?"

Approximate Time: 10 Minutes

Objective: Kids may not know that landfills and recycling centers exist in their counties.  They offer bins for recycling cans, bottles, metals, and newspaper.  Students and teachers will locate their homes, drop-off recycling centers and landfills on the map.

Materials Needed: County Map, Sticky dots of various colors

Background Information: What forms of waste handling and disposal are available in your community?  To find out locations of landfills and recycling centers, students and teachers can contact their local county, city, village or town government or their local Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources office.  The WDNR web site also contains contact information for solid waste disposal and recycling (

Method: Hang a laminated map on board and provide sticky dots.  “Let’s see if we can find your house (or street) on this map.  Let’s see how far it is from the landfill, drop-off center or transfer station.”  Have kids write their names on sticky dots and place them on map.

Standards Addressed Fulfill Wisconsin State Standards: A.4.5.Social Studies.  Use atlases, databases, grip systems, charts, graphs, and maps to gather information about the local community.  E.4.6.Social Studies.  Give examples of group and institutional influences such as laws, rules, and peer pressure on people, events, and culture.