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Outreach and Education in the Acid Rain Program

2010 April 27

Since I started working here at EPA I have been amazed by all the tools available to the public.  For today’s blog, I wanted to write a post with the “greatest hits” of goodies available on the topic of acid rain.  While working here as an intern I found not only outreach and informational materials, but tools to help educators and students as well.

The first thing I found was this great video with Brian McLean, Director of the Office of Atmospheric Programs (the EPA Office that runs the Acid Rain Program) and some middle school students from KIPP KEY Academy in southeast Washington, D.C.  In the video, Brian McLean and the kids talk about acid rain and the “grand experiment” of the Acid Rain Program.  They also run through a science experiment testing the acidity of various substances.  The video even reminded me of how we can help prevent acid rain — a young student suggests using less electricity, which means fewer emissions put into the air, which means… less acid rain.  So simple!

Watch the video here.

The video also describes the latest version of EPA’s Learning About Acid Rain: A teacher’s guide for grades 6 through 8, a great resource for students and teachers.  It was designed to help students better understand the science of acid rain, and how the EPA addresses the problem of acid rain.  The guide includes a few science experiments you can do at home.  One of my favorites involves testing the pH level of rainwater and your local water body.  This experiment requires only a few simple materials: pH paper and a color chart or a pH meter (range pH 2 to 7); a water sample from a local lake, pond or stream near your house; and rainwater collected during a rainy day.  Once you’ve tested and figured out the pH of your rainwater, you can compare it to the maps showing officially measured rainwater pH levels collected by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). As you read in last week’s blog, “Monitoring the Air and Rain,” NADP is a monitoring network that collects and analyzes rainwater to see if the Acid Rain Program is successful in reducing acid rain.  If you follow certain protocols when collecting and testing your samples, you can even upload your data to the GLOBE Program (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) website and share it with the whole world!

The last educational resource I want to share with you is the Acid Rain Students Site.  This site has tons of tools for both educators and students with lots of simple and straightforward information about acid rain.  There are even games and activities which are fun for kids of all ages!

How can you save electricity to do your part to reduce acid rain?  What else can you do to reduce acid rain? What experiments have you done involving acid rain?  What tools do you use to teach kids or adults about acid rain?

Josh Stewart is the Communications Intern with the EPA’s Clean Air Markets Division. Josh is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Political Management at The George Washington University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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