For Your Eyes Only

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Learners build particulate matter collectors--devices that collect samples of visible particulates present in polluted air. They place the collectors in various test sites and observe them over a period of days or weeks. Learners can compare how many particulates are collected at the different sites. This activity also has two introductory demonstrations to show learners what causes polluted air.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • 1 utility candle
  • 1 tin can (soup can)
  • Matches
  • 1 straw
  • Paper towel or rag
  • Hot mitt
  • 1 large glass jar
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2-3 ice cubes
  • 1 cup of water
  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • small glass jars (spice jar or baby food jar)
  • large glass jars (pickle, mayo or mason-type jar)
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Masking tape
  • Magnifying glasses
  • index cards
  • Chart paper (large, bulletin-board sized)
  • Colored construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Transparent tape


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Atmosphere
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Ecology
      • Human Impact
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Kolenbrander, Amy ; Perez, Sharon ; Kotys-Schwartz, Daria ; Yowell, Janet ; Mach, Natalie ; Schaefer Zarske, Malinda ; Carlson, Denise

Source Collection

  • TeachEngineering


  • All rights reserved, Regents of the University of Colorado, 2004

Funding Sources:

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • National Science Foundation, 0226322