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Suggested Time: 60 minutes. Science TEKS: 3.11, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5. Math TEKS: 5.11, 5.14, 5.15.


The atmosphere, air pollution, and meteorology may be fairly new topics for the students, so the first day’s discussions and brief demonstrations provide an opportunity to gauge their incoming knowledge. This will help teachers identify any common misconceptions to address by the end of the curriculum.

A demonstration with ice water and associated discussion will help students review three states of matter—solid, liquid, and gas—and examples of how the transfer of heat energy can cause transitions between these states. Students should then begin to think of the atmosphere around them as a mixture of gases. How do we know that air actually exists—that what surrounds us is not just empty space? Inflating a balloon and discussing how they perceive the air with their senses will help students explore this question. Teachers will also introduce the various measuring tools to the class, explain how they work, and organize students into teams for the measurements.

Students should leave with a sense of wonder about the atmosphere around them and motivated to learn more about its importance. Interesting facts in the “Background Information” section can help the teacher achieve this goal.

Background information

Matter is anything that takes up space, and is what makes up everything that we see. Solids, liquids and gases are three states of matter. A solid has both a fixed volume and fixed shape. A liquid takes the shape of whatever container that it is in, but has a fixed volume. Gases , however, do not have a fixed volume—they spread out to take up space, like in a balloon.

Students should recognize examples of transitions between states of matter and the role of heat energy in causing them. Adding heat energy can convert a solid to a liquid, or a liquid to a gas. Removing heat energy can turn a gas to a liquid, or a liquid to a solid. The condensation in the ice water demonstration provides a visual example, as the cold glass condenses water vapor (gas) from the air to form liquid water on the outside of the glass.

Air is a fascinating gas. Every breath we take (~1 liter) has 10 22 molecules of air ! That is about as many stars as exist in the universe. Interestingly, if you could make a box with sides the width of a human hair, it could still have trillions of air molecules inside. However, these air molecules are so small that air appears “invisible” to the naked eye. Air molecules do scatter light, especially at blue wavelengths, which gives the sky its color. Particles suspended in the air can both scatter and absorb light, creating a hazy appearance when the air is polluted (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Houston on a hazy day (L) and on a clear day (R)

Credit: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/features.cfm?feature=423

The air around the Earth is called the atmosphere . Viewed from space (Figure 2), we see that the atmosphere is very thin compared to the Earth overall. However, the atmosphere is vitally important to life on Earth. It contains the air that animals breathe and that plants use for photosynthesis; absorbs UV radiation; regulates the planet’s temperature; blocks meteors from crashing onto our surface; and is where weather occurs.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Rice air curriculum. OpenStax CNX. May 09, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11200/1.1
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