WHAM High School Air Quality program - Frequently Asked Questions

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) is the regional air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The South Coast Air Basin is home to more than 17 million people, which would make our region the fifth largest state in the United States. Our region suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the nation as we do not meet federal standards for both ozone and PM2.5. Air pollution has far ranging effects on the health of Southern Californians, causing or contributing to asthma and lung damage, respiratory and cardiac diseases, cancer, birth defects and premature death.
The South Coast AQMD combines forward-thinking policies with technological solutions to reduce air pollution. Additionally, South Coast AQMD engages in innovative, community-based approaches to educate residents on air quality issues in the South Coast and Coachella Air Basins. Through the WHAM Program, the South Coast AQMD hopes to increase awareness of air quality issues in the Basin and empower youth to drive positive change during a time when they are developing and forming their own habits.
The South Coast AQMD has identified high schools based on key environmental justice indicators such as: exposure to harmful particulate matter, criteria air pollutants, proximity to facilities that emit toxic air contaminants and communities defined as disadvantaged by state law, among others.
The Kids Making Sense® curriculum is an educational curriculum developed by Sonoma Technology, Inc., an environmental firm focused on innovative science and technology solutions. Kids Making Sense® is designed to teach youth how to measure air pollution using particulate matter sensors and how to interpret the data they collect. The program unites STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) with hands-on experiential learning. This curriculum introduces Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) through investigations and specific air sensing experiments that reinforce Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs).
The curriculum will be taught by the classroom teacher. South Coast AQMD staff are available to co-teach and/or assist the instructor for one class period per unit.
South Coast AQMD will provide a training video on the curriculum.
The full Kids Making Sense® curriculum is divided into eight units and takes approximately ten 50-minute class periods to complete. However, there are recommendations for what to cover if you have limited class time available.
The air quality monitoring equipment that will be used for the program are AirBeam2 portable air monitors. The AirBeam2 portable air monitors use a light-scattering method to detect particles. Software then estimates the number of particles in the air per cubic foot. The sensor takes a reading every 1.5 seconds. The AirBeam2 mainly measures fine particulate matter. AirBeam2 measurements are not intended for regulatory use.
A comprehensive curriculum review will be distributed to all participating instructors and administrators of the program at the end of the program. The review will provide opportunities to offer feedback and share best practices concerning the curriculum. The feedback will be shared with South Coast AQMD to better serve participating students in the coming years.
The South Coast AQMD staff assigned to your classroom will provide all of the needed materials to complete the assignments and experiments in the workbook.
Each kit includes: 5 AirBeam2 air sensors and 5 paired smartphones; A teacher’s guide and student workbook; Supplies and materials needed to successfully complete each experiment in the workbook.
After the program is completed, the kit will be returned to the South Coast AQMD. If you are interested in continuing the program for future classes, please contact Monika Kim, Senior Public Information Specialist, at or (909) 396-2342 for additional information.
The curriculum has been successfully implemented throughout Maricopa County in Arizona, Dana Middle School in San Pedro, John North High School in Riverside, Garvey Intermediate School in Rosemead, and Desert Mirage High School in Coachella.
Each school will receive one kit. The kit can be reused for multiple classes.
For additional information on South Coast AQMD’s WHAM Program, please contact Monika Kim at or (909) 396-2342.
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