Did you know that U.S. passenger cars add over one and a half billion tons of carbon dioxide to the air every year (EPA 2000)? Wow, that's a bunch of air pollution. Family cars? Well, if your family and your students' families drive 12,500 miles in a year, like the "average" American does, then each family car adds over 5 tons of it alone. How you and your students get from place to place and how many trips all of you take can make a difference.

  

Use this survey and see what your students can find out about the driving habits of their families, friends families or the families of other students at your school. Start small with your own students or get others at your school involved. Help your students learn more about air pollution from cars, trucks and other forms of transportation. Let them brainstorm to come up with ways to reduce the rides. Then share what they learned with others at your school through a bulletin board or a "Reduce the Rides" campaign. Help your students help protect Earth's air so we all can breath a little easier.

 

Reduce the Rides Teacher's Guide     Additional Cool School Challenge materials.

 

There's no need to talk about climate change with younger students. You can simply focus on reducing air pollution. Talk about cleaner air. Maybe some of your students have respiratory problems or they know someone who does. Make that the focus for cleaning up the air.

 

No need for a survey either. Do an informal class survey by asking questions about the number of cars in each family and how many student ride to school in a car. Ask them how many of their parents drive to work and how many car trips they think they make in one day...just yesterday. Then let them brainstorm about how they and their families can reduce the number of trips they make.

 

Live in the city? Then talk about how many bus rides they take each day or how much stuff they buy and how all that stuff gets to the stores where they buy it. Brainstorm with them about how to get trucks and cars off the city streets. Let them share their ideas with others and try to reduce the pollution from cars, buses and trucks in your city.