Clearing the air with Valley teachers

Junior high and high-school students throughout the San Joaquin Valley will benefit from an innovative, hands-on training program offered free of charge to their teachers.

More than 60 teachers representing the eight counties of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will evaluate the Clean Air Challenge teaching curriculum over the course of the next year. Based on the program's classroom success, teacher response and funding, the program will be expanded next year into more classrooms.

Clean Air Challenge is a theme based curriculum designed to teach students about the quality issues and how their personal decisions collectively affect air quality in the San Joaquin Valley. Teachers were trained in January and February in Bakersfield, Fresno, and Modesto to learn how to engage their students in scientific research on environmental problems that affect human health.

The training workshops are funded by a grant from Valley Clean Air Now, a private, non-profit organization that educates the public about the importance of taking personal responsibility for improving air quality. The Valley Air District has reviewed the curriculum and supports its introduction into Valley schools.

Northern California teachers who piloted the program acknowledged how well the curriculum correlates with California science standards. As a result over the past two years, more than 250 Northern California teachers have embraced the program.

"The most effective way to influence the future of our environment is through what our students are learning today," said Jaime Holt, the Air District’s Public Education Administrator. "This valuable educational resource will benefit the Valley’s children tomorrow’s adults for years to come."

Teachers were selected based on the subjects that best fit the curriculum of Clean Air Challenge: chemistry, earth, physical, environmental, integrated and general science. All teachers attending the training program will be invited to attend a reunion workshop next year to receive updates on the program. Subject to funding, additional teacher workshops may be held in the San Joaquin Valley in the future.

To learn more about the Clean Air Challenge, call Glenn Craig at 310-394-9864 or go to [email protected].

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