EMS Annual Meeting Abstracts
Vol. 18, EMS2021-261, 2021
EMS Annual Meeting 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Fog formation, smog situations and air quality in high school physics education

Beáta Molnár1,2, Tamás Weidinger3, and Péter Tasnádi3
Beáta Molnár et al.
  • 1Tompa Mihály Protestant High School, Rimaszombat, Rimavská Sobota, Slovakia (pelle.beata@reformata.sk)
  • 2Physics education PhD Program, Doctoral School of Physics, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
  • 3Department of Meteorology, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary (weidi@caesar.elte.hu, ttasipeter@gmail.com)

 It has become a requirement worldwide that physics syllabus should contain everyday knowledge as well. One important field that can make the curriculum more colourful and exciting is the field of meteorology. In our presentation a three-lesson-long curriculum for grammar schools will be introduced on how to teach the connection between fog formation and air quality. Mist (visibility between 1 and 5 km) and fog (visibility below 1 km) are frequent weather events in the Carpathian Basin in the winter half year and during mostly anticyclonic weather situations with durations of 500-1000 and 150-300 hours respectively. In these cases often occurs the temperature inversions, the cold air pool events thus the high concentration of pollutants. The international educational experience of this particular topic will be surveyed, mainly in the countries of the Carpathian Basin; moreover the measurement processes and education methods used in the GLOBE programme will also be presented. The curriculum was tried within the framework of physics among 14 to 16-year-old Slovakian secondary school students partially in long-distance education on the Internet. Students’ knowledge on the given subject was tested both before and after the experiment.

The experimental curriculum consists of three parts. In the first part air humidity and the notion of absolute and relative humidity are discussed. Through a few specific exercises the students learn to specify relative humidity and become acquainted with fog formation. It is shown via an experiment that air cooling at a constant humidity is not enough to form fog because condensational cores are needed for the formation of tiny water drops. In the 2nd lesson the concept of temperature inversion and its connection to fog and air pollution are discussed. With the use of Internet websites the students collect information about the formation of smog, its types, occurrence and the conditions announcing smog alert. In the 3rd lesson the methods of analysing air pollution and different air polluting materials are discussed. Websites, where the students can follow the air pollution data of their area, are used. On the grounds of this tasks about interpretation of the data are solved. Pieces of information which are available on the website of the European Environment Agency are also touched on. It was a new realization for them that the inhabitants of poverty-stricken valleys were more vulnerable to the formation of smog.

Other than helping the students better understand the concept of humidity, the experiment helped them better understand changes in consistency. Based on our experience, the experimental curriculum motivated the students to understand processes which take place in their environment regarding environmental protection and to make suggestions about solving these problems. 

How to cite: Molnár, B., Weidinger, T., and Tasnádi, P.: Fog formation, smog situations and air quality in high school physics education, EMS Annual Meeting 2021, online, 6–10 Sep 2021, EMS2021-261, https://doi.org/10.5194/ems2021-261, 2021.

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