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Can Buildings Make You Sick?

Viewing Ideas

Before Watching

  1. Explain to students that this program deals with the issue of air quality. Ask students to suggest some tests people might conduct and some locations where investigators might go to study air quality. Make a list of student responses on the board. Then tell students that the program will investigate the problem of indoor air quality. How might a study of indoor air quality be different from or similar to the students' predictions about tests of air quality?

  2. One of the reasons that sick building syndrome is so difficult to investigate is that people's symptoms are often relatively mild or can result from a variety of causes. Ask students to think of methods or questions that would help scientists focus their investigations of people's complaints. As they watch the videotape, have students think about how they would collect data from people working in a sick building to identify possible causes of the problem.

After Watching

  1. Based on what students have seen and heard, what do they think are the most common features in the buildings that cause people to get sick? Make a checklist of these features (such as fumes from new carpeting, inadequate ventilation, and mold in vents), then challenge the students to find out if any of these sick building features are present in your school building. Divide the class into teams and assign a different area of the building to each team. Have the students investigate their areas using their checklists and report back to the class.

  2. Ask students what they know about radon and carbon monoxide. Both of these gases can accumulate indoors and reach dangerous levels under certain circumstances. Test kits for both substances are available at many hardware stores. You may want to purchase test kits to show to the class and to raise students' awareness of these potentially dangerous gases. Explain to students that test kits should be put in places where these gases are most likely to occur, such as garages and basements.

Teacher's Guide
Can Buildings Make You Sick?

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