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Content: The Ozone Layer
Ozone (O3) is form of oxygen made up of three atoms instead of two. About 90 percent of the ozone in Earth's atmosphere is located in a layer about 10 miles above Earth's surface, in the upper stratosphere. This layer is called the ozone layer. The ozone layer absorbs most of the ultraviolet radiation (UV rays) emitted by the sun, preventing dangerous amounts from reaching Earth.
In the mid-1970s, scientists determined that human activity, especially ultra-fast air travel and the use of aerosol spray cans, refrigerants, pesticides, and firefighting halogens, was beginning to affect the ozone layer. In 1982, scientists concluded that the ozone layer was getting thinner with each passing year. In 1995, a hole 4 million square miles in size was discovered in the ozone layer above Antarctica. By the year 2000, the hole had grown to 11.4 million square miles, an area more than three times the size of the United States.
The depletion of the ozone layer causes more radiation to reach the Earth, and extended exposure to UV rays has been linked with, among other problems, skin cancer, cataracts, and a weakened immune system.
NASA's research confirms that the hole in the ozone layer, which used to cover just the area over Antarctica, has recently expanded to include the populated regions at the southern tip of Chile. In the city of Punta Arenas, for example, daytime ultraviolet radiation levels are calculated to be 40 percent higher than normal. Most adults wear sunglasses and sunblock, while children and those of pale complexion are advised not to stay in the sun for longer than seven minutes at a time.
In 1987, more than 160 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase out the production and consumption of ozone-depleting substances in order to protect the ozone layer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if the Montreal Protocol is followed, the ozone layer will return to normal by 2050.
Teaching Strategy: Exploring Current Issues
Students often become aware of current issues through the media, but their exposure generally is at a superficial level. There are several strategies you can use to engage young children in current events locally and globally. First, have students connect what they pick up in the news to their own lives as an effective strategy for engaging young children in current events locally and globally. Second, have students explore the effects of an event or issue on other people's lives. Or third, present the issue as a problem for students to solve, as Ms. Jones-Inge has done. By expanding on the information they receive from the news, students develop their research skills. By working in groups to plan for realistic and useful courses of action, students learn and practice civil discussion, explore democratic principles such as individual rights, human dignity, and fairness, and demonstrate their ability to make a difference.
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