Keith Bamburger and Melissa Kennedy from the North Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality worked with Polk Central fifth graders on Friday, Dec. 6.

Students learned about the importance of clean air by holding their breath for just 30 seconds!

They built oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen molecules to get a sense of the components of air. They predicted and tested the effects of adding and removing air from a sealed jar of marshmallows – and received surprise results as adding air made the marshmallows get small and hard while removing air made them expand. Students also inspected air filters taken from different places to compare air quality in different conditions.

Finally, students tested the energy use of an LED lightbulb compared to an incandescent bulb. LEDs use approximately 10 percent of the energy used by an incandescent bulb. Students considered what their lives would be like before they would have to change that LED bulb in 20-30 years.