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Coughing Up Fumes!

2012 September 13

schoolbusBy Yvonne Gonzalez

Cough! Cough! Cough!

Every once in a while I used to miss the school bus just as I was getting to the corner of my street where I was supposed to pick it up.  What can I say? I had a knack for not really being on time to be picked up.  Instead I would get there just as the bus pulled away, blasted with exhaust fumes and I’d begin coughing after breathing some in. As I grew up, I wondered about those exhaust fumes because I not only saw it trailing school buses, but public buses and big rigs that used diesel fuel.

I had no idea how much pollution was released or its effects until I read the “Magic School Bus Gets Cleaned Up”.   It’s all about a magic school bus that takes a group of students on different adventures that explore the world, except in the book they realize that the bus pollutes the air when it’s used.

The characters in the book, Ms.Frizzle (the science teacher) and her students, learn about pollution, idle reduction and other ways to reduce health risks from diesel exhaust.  At the end of the story, the Magic School Bus is retrofitted with its own pollution control device, a diesel particulate-matter filter.

It gets better.  With the EPA’s help, the book’s publisher retrofitted a school bus that offers hands-on science lessons on air pollution to kids.

To get more information, go to:

Yvonne Gonzalez recently finished an internship with the Air and Radiation Division in Chicago.  She currently works at EPA in Washington, DC in the Chemicals Control Division.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations 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.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Ava permalink
    September 22, 2012

    I’m starting a green club at my school and I need some ideas for cool crafts! I think that the article is interesting because I’ve been in the same scenario

  2. Carson permalink
    May 20, 2013

    I loved the magic school bus cartoons they were my favorite part of television days in elementary school. As far as I know the book mentioned in this article is the only magic school bus story to mix environmentalism into the creative ways into which they explain science to young children. This type of approach seems like a great idea to spread the word about pollution. I remember as a kid that we basically worshiped the magic school bus because it made science cool and not just boring and nerdy. From explaining sound waves to the rock cycle and now apparently exhaust pollution, none can compare to Mrs. Frizzle and her class. Trying to teach children who haven’t even studied atoms or the world on a microscopic level how particulate matter scrubbers and catalytic converters work is a little harder than just a diagram accompanied by a lecture. The way that these cartoons bring the kids on the same level as the science while still not dumb-ing it down too much provides for an easy way to engage them and educate them Even as a teenager in my AP Environmental Science class its easier to learn concepts through hands on activities rather than lectures. What better way to explain the tragedy of the commons than to have your village die by that same tragedy? In summary, I think what these cartoons and programs are doing is great and there are so many other examples they could use to get kids interested in protecting their environment.

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