Ground Level Ozone

Submitted by: Jennifer Freed

School Affiliation: Mountain Ridge High School, Glendale, Arizona

Subject: Environmental Biology

Grade Levels: 9-12

Overview: In this project, students use real time data to predict the level of ground ozone in their home city. They then measure the level of ground ozone and submit their data to an online collaborative project. Throughout the project, online discussions are used. The students finish by creating a web page describing the hazards of ground level ozone.

Rationale: Real time data creates "buy-in" for the students as they learn science concepts. They can see how the ground level ozone values can affect their lives. Participating in the online collaborative project allows them to participate in authentic research as well.

State/National Standards:

For an extensive list of Arizona State Standards, see the attachment at the end of the lesson.

Learning Objectives: By the end of this project, students will be able to:

·  Describe what ozone is, when it is formed and what the health effects are from breathing ozone.

·  Read the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index (AQI) chart, record weather data, and determine the presence of ground level ozone.

·  Create graphs to help visualize or recognize trends.

·  Predict when ground level ozone may occur.

·  Use technology to determine current ground ozone levels.

·  Use knowledge gained to create awareness about ground level ozone and the associated health effects.

·  Create a web page reporting information about ground level ozone and what people can do to help with the problem.


·  Internet availability for real-time data site. The online discussion can be completed in-class as a journal assignment if an online discussion board is not available.

·  An ozone testing kit (we use Eco Badges) is needed for the online collaborative project as well as an Internet connection; however, this part of the project is optional. (There are some labs such as milkweed damage that can be found online that could test ozone levels if a kit is not available.)

·  The final web page project could be modified to a brochure or poster if web page posting is not available at a particular school or district.



The complete project and procedures as well as rubrics are found at

Here is a summary of the procedure:

1. What do you know about ozone? A series of questions about ozone to be completed by the student in an online discussion (or at home as a writing assignment) to determine prior knowledge.

2. In-class activity: KWL. What do you know about ground level ozone? What would you like to know about ground level ozone?

3. The Ozone Between Us. Here the students go to the CIESE ozone project Web site to learn about ground level ozone and how to read ozone maps.

4. In-class activity: Students report their findings from the Ozone Between Us activity to the class. The class then discusses what they learned and watches a short video clip from "Ozone Double Trouble" (available on the CIESE Web site).

5. Weather's Role. The students go on the CIESE Web site to learn how weather can affect ground ozone levels.

6. In-class activity: Students report their findings from the Weather's Role activity to the class. The class then discusses what they learned as well as compares their graphs.

7. Tracking Ozone. The students return to the CIESE web page to track ozone events and learn how to create graphs and maps.

8. Can you use this information to predict ozone events? This is an online discussion (or at-home writing assignment) where the students create a plan on how they would predict ozone levels in their city.

9. Will There Be Ozone Tomorrow? The students return to the CIESE web site to predict ozone levels for two days in their city based on current weather and ozone patterns.

10. Post your predictions. The students post their predictions on the online discussion board (or can write them as a journal entry in class or at home).

11. Measuring Ozone. Students measure ozone levels for their city for a week to create ozone graphs as well as to determine if their predictions were correct. They will then submit their ozone data to the Pathfinder Science Web site for their collaborative online project.

12. Finish Will There Be Ozone Tomorrow. Students analyze their predictions and compare them to the real ozone events.

13. Smog City. The students return to the CIESE Web site to perform simulated ozone events and to learn what they can do to prevent ground level ozone contamination.

14. In-class activity: KWL. What did we learn about ozone from this unit?

15. What Can You Do? Students create an informational web page discussing the ground level ozone problem as well as what people can do about it.


The measurement of ozone and contribution to the online collaborative project through Pathfinder Science could be used as an extension activity.


The students are assessed using their discussion question responses throughout the project. The web page is used as a final assessment. Rubrics for this assessment are found on my Web site as well:

Resources Consulted:

The Center for Improved Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) Web site,
Pathfinder Science Web site,
Rubrics were created using Rubristar,


This project is a blend of two existing online projects with modifications as well as some additions of my own. The original project comes from the Center for Improved Engineering and Science online project entitled "Air Pollution: What's the Solution."

The online collaboration is from the Pathfinder Science online project called "Keeping an Eye on Ozone."

The discussion questions, KWL activity, and other extensions were my additions to the projects.


This lesson plans meets the following Arizona State Standards:

Standard 1: Science As Inquiry

Students understand and use the processes of scientific investigation and scientific ways of knowing. They are able to design, conduct, describe and evaluate these investigations. They are able to understand and apply concepts that unify scientific disciplines.
1SC-P1. Propose solutions to practical and theoretical problems by synthesizing and evaluating information gained from scientific investigations
PO 2. Propose solutions to a problem, based on information gained from scientific investigation
1SC-P2. Compare observations of the real world to observations of a constructed model (e.g., an aquarium, a terrarium, a volcano)
PO 1. Assess the capability of a model to represent a "real world" scenario
1SC-P4. Create and defend a written plan of action for a scientific investigation
PO 1. Design an appropriate protocol (written plan of action) for the investigation of a scientific problem
PO 2. Justify the protocol in terms of the elements of experimental design
1SC-P5. Apply the concepts of equilibrium, form and function to a variety of phenomena
PO 1. Predict the effects of various factors on the equilibrium of a system
1SC-P6. Identify and refine a researchable question, conduct the experiment, collect and analyze data, share and discuss findings
PO 1. Construct a researchable question
PO 2. Employ a research design that incorporates a scientific method to carry out an experiment
PO 3. Analyze experimental data
PO 4. Communicate experimental findings to others

Standard 3: Personal and Social Perspectives in Science and Technology

Students understand the impact of science on human activity and the environment and are proficient in the uses of technology as they relate to science.
3SC-P2. Propose and test, using computer software or common materials, a solution to an existing problem; or design a product to meet a need, using a model or simulation
PO 1. Describe a problem or need
PO 2. Propose a solution to the problem or design a product to meet the need
3SC-P4. Identify and describe the basic processes of the natural ecosystems and how these processes affect, and are affected by, humans
PO 1. Describe the basic processes of the natural ecosystems (e.g., water cycle, nutrient cycles)
PO 2. Explain how these processes affect, and are affected by, humans

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/ Science Fair Project Information
Title: Study of tropospheric ozone using OSIRIS and TOMS data.
Subject: Earth Sciences
Grade level: High School - Grades 10-12
Academic Level: Advanced
Project Type: Experimental
Cost: Low
Awards: 1st place, Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (2004)
Affiliation: Canada Wide Virtual Science Fair (VSF)
Year: 2004
Description: The goal of this project is to use OSIRIS and TOMS ozone data to find those areas on the Earth, where the concentration of tropospheric ozone is systematically large. This is done by subtracting OSIRIS stratospheric ozone maps from TOMS total ozone maps.
Short Background
Ozone (O3) is a constituent of the troposphere (it is also an important constituent of certain regions of the stratosphere commonly known as the Ozone layer). Photochemical and chemical reactions involving it drive many of the chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere by day and by night. At abnormally high concentrations brought about by human activities (largely the combustion of fossil fuel), it is a pollutant, and a constituent of smog. Many highly energetic reactions produce it, ranging from combustion to photocopying. Often laser printers will have a smell of ozone, which in high concentrations is toxic. Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent readily reacting with other chemical compounds to make many possibly toxic oxides.
The troposphere extends to between 10 and 18 kilometers above the surface of the Earth and consists of many layers. Ozone is more concentrated above the mixing layer, or ground layer. Ground-level ozone, though less concentrated than ozone aloft, is more of a problem because of its health effects.
Tropospheric ozone is a greenhouse gas and initiates the chemical removal of methane and other hydrocarbons from the atmosphere. Thus, its concentration affects how long these compounds remain in the air.
Satellites can measure tropospheric ozone. Measurements specifically of ground-level ozone require in situ monitoring technology.
The Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) is a satellite instrument for measuring ozone values. Of the five TOMS instruments which were built, four entered successful orbit. Nimbus-7 and Meteor-3 provided global measurements of total column ozone on a daily basis and together provide a complete data set of daily ozone from November 1978 - December 1994. After an eighteen month period when the program had no on-orbit capability, ADEOS TOMS was launched on August 17, 1996 and provided data until the satellite which housed it lost power on June 29, 1997. Earth Probe TOMS was launched on July 2, 1996 to provide supplemental measurements, but was boosted to a higher orbit to replace the failed ADEOS. The only total failure in the series was QuikTOMS, which was launched on September 21, 2001 but did not achieve an orbit. The transmitter for the Earth Probe TOMS failed on December 2, 2006.
Since January 1, 2006 data from the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) has replaced Earth Probe TOMS.
OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) is the main scientific imaging system on the orbiter of the ESA spacecraft Rosetta. It was built by a consortium led by the German Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research.
For More Information: Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS)
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)
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The Science Teacher, December '95

Field testing ground level ozone is from a module, "Ozone in Our Atmosphere" developed by Project LEARN teachers at NCAR, National Center of Atmospheric Research, Boulder Colorado. The test is over a hundred years old and was developed by Dr. Schoenbein in the early 1800's. The test paper he developed contains Potassium Iodide, Corn Starch and water. I would suggest that you use distilled water to make this paper and for the final reading. Schoenbein's paper is placed in an area away from light for eight hours to allow for a reaction. This test is based on the oxidation capability of ozone.
Ozone in the air will oxidize the potassium iodide on the Schoenbein paper to produce iodine. The iodine reacts with starch and produces a purple color. The exact shade of purple correlates to the amount of ozone present in the air. The two reactions involved are:

2KI + 03 + H2O 2KOH + O2 + I
I2 + starch Blue or Purple color

Schoenbein Paper Preparation......

  1. Place 100 ml of water in a 250ml beaker then add 5g of corn starch.
  2. Heat and stir mixture until it gels. The mixture is gelled when it thickens and becomes somewhat translucent.
  3. Remove the beaker from the heat and add 1g of potassium iodide and stir well. Cool the solution.
  4. Lay a piece of filter paper on a glass plate and carefully brush the paste onto the filter paper. Turn the filter paper over and do the same on the other side. Apply the paste as uniformly as possible. The paper can be exposed for immediate testing at this point.
  5. Allow the paper to dry. Do not set in direct sunlight. A low-temperature drying oven works best. To save time, place the paper on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Cut the filter paper into 1inch wide strips, place them in a zipper-lock plastic bag or glass jar out of direct sunlight.
    *Wash hands thoroughly with soap and scrub under fingernails with a brush after working with the potassium iodide mixture.

Testing Procedure......

  1. Dip a strip of test paper in distilled water and hang it at a data collection site out of direct sunlight. Make sure the strip can hang freely.
  2. Expose the paper for approximately eight hours. Seal it in an airtight container if the results will not be recorded immediately.
  3. To observe and record test results, dip the paper in distilled water. Observe the color and determine the Schoenbein Number using the Schoenbein color scale.
  4. Determine the relative humidity of the data collection site by using a bulb psychrometer or local weather data. Round off the relative humidity reading to the nearest 10 percent. (High relative humidity makes the paper more sensitive to ozone, and a higher Schoenbein Number is observed. To correct for this, the relative humidity must be determined and figured into the calculation of ozone contration.) Refer to the Relative Humidity Number Chart. Along the bottom of the chart, find the point that corresponds to the Schoenbein number that you recorded. From that point, draw a line upward until it intersects with the curve that corresponds to your humidity reading. To find the ozone concentration in parts per billion, draw a perpendicular line from the Schoenbein number/relative humidity point of intersection to the left side of the chart.

Observation and Questions......