By Alaitz Aritza
SEI staff presents on air quality mapping at virtual teacher training
While conducting outreach for SEI’s Air Quality Education Program, I met with Dawn Castillo, a teacher on a special assignment focused on building science curriculum in the Sweetwater Union School District. Dawn asked if she could hold on to one of SEI’s air quality testing kits, with the hope that she might be able to interest one or two teachers at her district in participating in SEI’s air quality education program down the line.
The curriculum Dawn requested focuses on air quality and environmental justice. Our team’s goal is to share this curriculum with teachers, free of charge, and give them the necessary resources to implement the curriculum in their classrooms. In particular, we hoped to share our air quality curriculum with teachers and students who are disproportionately impacted by poor air quality, so we were thrilled to have Dawn on board to help us recruit teachers from the Sweetwater District. In addition to curriculum, we also supply teachers with air quality testing kits and professional guidance for troubleshooting the equipment. During air quality lessons, students engage with an online mapping application to track local and regional air quality before developing an action plan to address these issues in their communities.
When the fall 2022 semester started, I reached out to Dawn to check in and share additional opportunities. In the interim, we had started another year of the Air Quality Education Program and were looking for new teachers who could use the curriculum. Dawn responded and asked if SEI would be interested in giving a one hour introduction to the Air Quality Education Program at 8:00 AM the next Monday morning. She explained that this would coincide with the district's professional development time for teachers, and she was sure one or two teachers would be interested in attending. Our team was happy to oblige.
The team, made up of Jessica, Austen and myself, convened at 7:30 AM the next Monday for final preparations, planning on a small session with a few participants. We had to adjust our game plan on the fly as one by one teachers filed into the Zoom meeting. By the end, we were able to count over 40 participants, frantically writing down names and taking screenshots while we led the training. After the training 11 teachers signed up for our Air Quality Education Program. Following the training, teachers shared their enthusiasm for bringing air quality engagement to their students:
“I am excited to bring data and citizen science to my classroom. We are able to identify problems and focus on solutions.”
“I enjoyed both of the times we were asked to interact with the materials for students. Using the EnviroMap 4.0 was nice to look at how our local area was segregated by air quality.”
“I am excited to tie in some of the policy and environmental justice resources into my curriculum to add relevance & build engagement.”
We are thrilled to support these teachers in bringing education on air quality, environmental justice and community action to their students! Learn more about SEI's curriculum offerings and request the air quality curriculum here.
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