Recommended for Middle School through High School.
Particulate matter consists of a mixture of particles ranging from large particles such as smoke, dust, and pollen to smaller ones from vehicle exhaust and coal-fired plants. The major contributors of particles to the air you breathe include coal and oil burning power plants, diesel fuel, and wood-burning fireplaces. Natural sources of particulate matter include volcanic ash, pollen and dust. The amount of particulate matter in the air can be measured using various techniques. One technique uses a device that collects particulates on a filter strip and periodically shines light through the strip to record the difference in light transmittance. This difference correlates to the particle mass collected over a period of time. You will use a similar technique.
In this experiment, you will measure the amount of light that passes through a test card that has been allowed to collect particulate matter in the air for a week. You will compare the transmittance of light through the test card to a control card.
In this experiment, you will
Collect particulate matter from the air.
Use a Light Sensor to determine the amount of light blocked by the particulate matter.
Calculate the percent light transmittance for various locations.
Sensors and Equipment
This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.