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. Our region suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the nation as we do not meet federal standards for either ozone or 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. South Coast AQMD's mission is to clean the air and protect the health of all residents in the South Coast Air District through practical and innovative strategies.
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 Basins 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 middle schools and 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 students 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. If circumstances allow, the program offers a South Coast AQMD guest speaker to visit the participating classroom and assist with the implementation of the curriculum for one class period per unit.
South Coast AQMD will provide a training video on the curriculum. In addition, South Coast AQMD offers flexible options to aid in the successful implementation of the program, such as South Coast AQMD guest speakers via ZOOM, PowerPoint presentations for each unit, pre-recorded video lectures, and air quality-related videos. One-on-one assistance is also available upon request.
The WHAM program is flexible to accommodate the needs of the participating classroom teacher. The full Kids Making Sense® curriculum is divided into eight units and takes approximately ten 50-minute class periods to complete. The curriculum can be covered in full or broken up into select units, and it is entirely up to the classroom teacher on the number of units they would like to implement in their classroom. South Coast AQMD can provide recommendations on which units to cover that best align with classroom lesson plans and availability.
A comprehensive evaluation survey will be distributed to all participating instructors following implementation of the program. The review will provide opportunities for instructors to offer feedback and share best practices concerning the program. The feedback will be shared with South Coast AQMD to better serve participating students in the coming years.
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.
South Coast AQMD will provide each participating school with one Kids Making Sense® kit. The kit contains everything you will need to successfully implement the program.
Each kit includes: 5 AirBeam2 air sensors and 5 paired smartphones; A teacher’s guide and student workbooks; Supplies and materials needed to successfully complete each experiment in the workbook. The kit can be reused for multiple classes.
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 at or (909) 396-2342 for additional information.
The program has been successfully implemented throughout 45 classrooms (34 high schools) across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The WHAM program offers features and support to provide teachers with maximum flexibility and learning tools to help meet their accommodate class and student needs. If circumstances allow it, we offer in-person guest speakers to visit all participating classrooms. Additionally, we offer the following flexible options to aid in the successful implementation of the program: South Coast AQMD guest speaker via ZOOM; PowerPoint presentations for each unit; Pre-recorded video lectures; and, Air quality related videos.
For additional information on South Coast AQMD’s WHAM Program, please contact Monika Kim at or (909) 396-2342 or visit:
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