National project sets out to help world's ozone

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Started in 2008, the Global Ozone Project (GO3 project) was created for students to have fun with Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) through work focusing on air pollution and ground level ozone.

GO3 data is collected all over the world, from Jakarta, Indonesia to Boston, Massachusetts. It’s even done at Moffat County High School.

In 2009, Mr. Spears, a former MCHS science teacher, and the science department selected a team of three sophomores and a freshman who showed maturity and responsibility in their school work. This year though, the team consists of only four students, all juniors. The supervisor of the group has also changed. Mrs. Clark, a MCHS science teacher, now heads the GO3 project at MCHS since Mr. Spears’ departure. But that doesn’t stop the efficiency of the group.

The MCHS team set up their ozone monitor at Craig Middle School in Mr. Yoast’s room, a CMS science teacher. This monitor studies and records the ground level ozone in the Craig area. Craig was selected by the GO3 headquarters due to the fact that Craig is the home of a power plant, meaning the data recorded will help show the effect of power plants on the atmosphere.

There are several different types of ozone. Ground level ozone is the toxic kind. Ground level ozone is not released into the atmosphere directly, but instead is created by chemical reactions of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and VOC (volatile organic compounds). When these two things mix in the presence of sunlight, you get harmful ozone or O3.

“We’re getting a crash course in technology usage in the real world,” GO3 member Matt Bladerston stated. Technology experience isn’t the only thing the students are gaining. “I’ve learned a lot about ozone,” GO3 member Hannah Kirk said. ”I can tell you pretty much anything about ozone or how we collect it.”

The MCHS group is collecting data that is contributing to a global project. All of the data that they gather is put on the GO3 website and is uploaded to Google Earth. From there, anyone can look and see where the most poisonous ozone is being generated any where in the world. Using this data, the GO3 headquarters puts out a daily weather report about the levels of ground ozone that is sent to the large news stations. The news stations, in turn, put out a bulletin notifing the public about the levels. They warn the public about high levels and then offer helpful suggestions, like avoiding the outside if asthma is a problem or riding bikes to work to cut pollution.

In Moffat County, the team collects data that not only is submitted to the GO3 headquarters, but also to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) database.

In 2008, the Clean Air Act, created by President George Bush, stated that the required ozone standard would be 75 parts per billion (ppb) in America. The idea was put aside. This year, the EPA has decided to bring it back and enforce it. According to the GO3 website, go3project.com, Craig’s O3 levels hadn’t exceeded 50 ppb in September 2011. That is considerably low when compared to MCHS’s sister school in Jakarta, Indonesia. The highest levels were recorded at 188 ppb in September 2011. That is more than double America’s standard.

Although students may think that the GO3 project is just another science class, in actuality, it’s not a class at all. In technical terms, it is an extracurricular activity. The students who participate gain no high school credits. They participate to help not only the community, but to help the planet.

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