Where do we come from and where do we fit?


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Step 1: Take the coffee filter and punch/cut a hole in it, about 1/2 inch from one of the edges (it doesn’t really matter where).


Step 2: Now comes the fun part. Take Vaseline or a petroleum jelly product and smear a layer all over both sides of the coffee filter so that it is almost entirely covered. This will be pretty messy, but enjoy it! What you’ll end up with is a coffee filter that looks like Step 2 in this diagram.


Step 3: Take a piece of string or fishing wire about a meter long (that’s about a yard) and tie one end of the string through the hole so that you end up with something like Step 3 in this diagram. This greasy circle of paper on the end of a string will be your particle trap.


Step 4: At this point, tie the filter up somewhere outside where it can hang without being blown into the side of a building or a tree. It doesn’t matter where the filter hangs, as long as it is outside. If you want to hang the filter out of a window, you can do that, but be careful not to get Vaseline on your building or the glass. You also may want to tie the bottom of the filter to keep it from being blown around in the wind. The best place, if you can access it, is to tie it to a tree branch that sticks out from the trunk of a tree a few feet, since it is not likely to blow against the trunk.


The place that you choose must be relatively safe, since this filter will have to stay outside for four weeks, so don’t hang it somewhere where it is going to get taken or thrown away.



This apparatus that you’ve created is a rough but very effective air pollution gauge that will measure the presence of particulate matter in the air. For some background on particulate matter, take a look at this EPA website.


Units 3 and 4: Assignment Part 2 : After one week, go back out and make new

observations, taking special note of any changes you observe since the last time you looked at the filter. Repeat this task at least twice a week during Units 3 and 4. If you can, keep taking digital pictures as the weeks go by. Please ensure that you keep accurate records of your observations.  You will not need to submit a project this week.


Unit 5: Assignment Part 3: At the end of this week, you will collect all of your observations into a Microsoft Word table. Review your original hypothesis from Week 1 and assess whether or not what you thought was going to take place actually happened, keeping in mind that your grade on this assignment will not be based on whether or not you were correct. The following questions should be addressed in the discussion of your findings: What might be on your filter? Where might it have come from? What do you think this indicates about the level of particulate matter in the air in your neighborhood? Are there other pollutants that might be on the filter? What does this imply might be happening in your lungs?  Additionally, you will revise your hypothesis and reach your conclusion. Remember that your assignment must be formatted as per APA-formatting guidelines.


(Unit 5) Assignment Part 4: Remove your filter and press it between two sheets of clear plastic wrap so that you can pick it up without getting your hands greasy. Show your filter to at least three other people and discuss the experiment with them. Then, using your observations, plus pictures and the responses of the other people with whom you have spoken, write a letter to a local or state governmental representative (one who is elected from your district—you will have to find out who this person is). The letter should explain the experiment and then give specific details about what you observed, what you think might be causing it, and what you think can be done about it. Include this letter with the write-up for this assignment, and mail the other copy to your congressperson. Clickhere to see the enthusiastic response that one student received when she sent her observations to U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman. You can include this part of your assignment in the same document as the third part of the assignment.

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