Development of Experience-based Learning about Atmospheric Environment with Quantitative Viewpoint aimed at Education for Sustainable Development

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Yoshinori Saitoh and Hiroshi Tago, Gunma Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Environmental Sciences, Atmospheric Environment Section, Maebashi, Japan
The word “ESD (Education for Sustainable Development)” has spread over the world in UN decade (2005 - 2014), and the momentum of the educational innovation aimed at ESD also has grown in the world. Especially, environmental educations recognized as one of the most important ESD have developed in many countries including Japan, but most of those are still mainly experiences in nature. Those could develop “Respect for Environment” of the educational targets of ESD, however we would have to take a further step in order to enhance “Ability of analysis and thinking logically about the environment” which are also targets of ESD.

Thus, we developed experienced-learning program about atmospheric particulate matter (PM2.5), for understanding the state of the environment objectively based on quantitative data. PM2.5 is known for harmful, and various human activities are considered a source of it, therefore environmental standards for PM2.5 have been established in many countries. This program was tested on junior high school students of 13 – 15 years old, and the questionnaire survey also was conducted to them before and after the program for evaluating educational effects.

Students experienced to measure the concentration of PM2.5 at 5 places around their school in a practical manner. The measured concentration of PM2.5 ranged from 19 to 41 μg/m3/day, that value at the most crowded roadside exceeded Japan’s environmental standard (35 μg/m3/day). Many of them expressed “Value of PM2.5 is high” in their individual discussion notes. As a consistent with that, the answer “Don’t know” to the question "What do you think about the state of the air?" markedly decreased after the program, on the other hand the answer “Pollution” to the same question increased instead. From above-mentioned, it was considered that they could judge the state of the air objectively. Consequently, the questionnaire result “Concern about Air Pollution” increased significantly after the program compared to before. Additionally, they seemed to try to think logically about what influenced PM2.5, focusing on various factors such as traffic (car), wind direction and velocity, which were frequently-appearing words in the text-mining of discussion notes.