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Will Smog Be a Problem at the Olympic Games?


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Grades 2-up

News Content

Dirty air is likely to impact athletes at this summers Olympics in Beijing, China.

Anticipation Guide

Before reading, ask students to identify on a world map the location of China. Can they pinpoint the city of Beijing on the map? Beijing is the capital city of the Peoples Republic of China.

Ask students, What is smog? Smog is a mixture of fog and smoke that sometimes hangs over large cities, particularly industrial cities.

News Words

Next, introduce these words that appear in the News Word Box on the students printable page: participate, ideal, reduce, marathon, monitor, and postpone. Discuss the meanings of any of those words that might be unfamiliar. Then ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these sentences:

  • The office was either too hot or too cold, but never the _____ temperature. (ideal)
  • Nurses used a special machine to _____ my grandfathers heart condition. (monitor)
  • Do you know how many people will _____ in the field day events? (participate)
  • The key to losing weight is to increase exercise and _____ calories. (reduce)
  • A blizzard forced our principal to _____ the spelling bee. (postpone)
  • The runners were exhausted after participating in the _____. (marathon)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this weeks news story Will Smog Be a Problem at the Olympic Games?

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    Students might first read the news story to themselves; then you might call on individual students to read sections of the news aloud for the class.

    Photocopy the news story onto a transparency and project it onto a screen. (Or use your classroom computer's projector to project the story.) Read the story aloud as a class, or ask students to take turns reading it.

    Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write notes in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • The Summer Olympic Games will be held in Beijing, China, from August 8 to 24.
  • The Summer Olympic Games are often held in places that are known for their heat and humidity. The Games were held in Seoul (Korea) in 1988, Barcelona (Spain) in 1992, Atlanta (Georgia, USA) in 1996, and Athens (Greece) in 2004. So the heat of Beijing should not present major problems. It is the air pollution that is adding a new wrinkle to this years Games.
  • The International Olympic Committees medical commission recently analyzed air-quality data recorded by the Beijing Environment Protection Bureau in August 2007, when test athletic events were held in the Chinese capital. Four independent pollution experts analyzed the levels of ozone, sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide in the air. The commission found that outdoor endurance events -- those that include at least an hour of continuous, high-intensity physical effort -- may pose some risk to athletes in Beijing. It may be that some events will not be conducted under optimal conditions, which is the reality of sports competitions, and that we may not see records broken in Beijing," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC medical commission.
  • If some Olympic events must be postponed, that would not be the first time. Winter Olympic events have been postponed due to heavy snow, and a tennis match in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, was postponed due to the heat.
  • In mid-March, marathon world-record-holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia announced he wouldn't compete in the marathon at the Beijing Olympic Games. The 34-year-old runner, who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, will run in the 10,000 meters instead. Last November, the worlds top-ranked tennis player, Justine Henin, withdrew from a competition in Beijing because of pollution.
  • Athletes from nations around the world will be well prepared for the potential effects of poor air in Beijing. Some athletes who are known to suffer from asthma may qualify to use inhalers during the games. Many athletes will train far outside of Beijing and come into the areas around the city only for the opening ceremonies and their scheduled events.
  • Athletes competing in Beijing will be more closely monitored and armed with more advice on coping with the heat, humidity, and pollution than any other Olympians in history. We can't control wind or rain or sun," one athlete said, and we cant control the pollution either. We just have to deal with it."
  • Air quality is not the only controversy surrounding this summers Games. Policies of the Chinese government in Darfur (Sudan) and Tibet are pushing some human rights groups to call for boycotts of the Olympics. But even the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, who accuses China of engaging in cultural genocide" in the Himalayan region, doesn't want an Olympic boycott.
  • The Summer Olympic Games are held every four years. The 2012 Games will be held in London, England. Currently, seven cities are vying for the right to host the Summer Olympics of 2016. Those cities are Chicago (Illinois, USA); Prague (Czech Republic); Tokyo (Japan); Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Baku (Azerbaijan); Doha (Qatar); and Madrid (Spain).

    Comprehension Check

    Recalling Detail

  • When do this years Summer Olympic Games get underway? (on August 8)
  • Where are they being held? (in Beijing, China)
  • How much money has the Chinese government spent to clean up the air in Beijing? ($17 billion)
  • Which events are likely to be made more difficult by the bad air conditions? (outdoor athletic events that might go on for more than an hour; events such as the marathon and racewalking, road cycling, and mountain biking)
  • Why will Chinese officials close down some factories during the Olympic Games? (to help cut down on the amount of pollution in the air)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. Accept students reasoned responses. Students might suggest that athletes will frequently monitor their heart rate and other body conditions to ensure that the air quality is not affecting them. Also, as mentioned in the More Facts to Share section above, many athletes will live and practice outside the Beijing area, where air quality might not be so bad.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Language arts -- compound words. Ask students to identify any compound words (words that are comprised of two smaller words to create a new word with its own meaning) in this weeks News for Kids article about the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. They might identify underway, outdoor, and racewalking as compound words. Write the words below on a board or chart. Ask students to identify the compound words among them. The compound words appear below in italic type.
    tablecloth, weakness, kitten, broomstick, skateboard, bathroom, skiing, recess, toolbox, melon, starfish, captain, elevator, policeman, because, weekend, opened, children, playground

    Math -- classroom Olympics. Provide each student with a pad, a handheld whiteboard, or a stack of scrap paper. Let students know that you will present a series of math problems for them to solve. Also, tell that that you will state each math problem once and only once; you will state the problem slowly so they have time to write it as you speak it. Students start their computation as soon they have heard the complete problem. You might opt to make this a quiet competition; the first student to hold up the correct answer -- without and grunts or groans or any other calls for attention -- is awarded 5 points. The second student to get the correct answer earns 3 points. The third person gets 1 point. Speed counts, but so does accuracy; any of the first students who come up with wrong answers will receive 3-point deductions. Tally the scores at the end of ten math problems. Any non-competitors can sit at the front of the classroom and help the teacher keep tabs on who was first, second, and third to raise a hand.

    Geography -- where is China? Project or print out this political map of Asia. Ask students to identify where in relation to China each of these ten Asian countries is located: India (India is west or southwest of China); Mongolia (north); Malaysia (south or southeast); Iran (west); Japan (east or northeast); Thailand (south); Philippines (south or southeast); Pakistan (west); Indonesia (south); Iraq (west).

    Math -- counting. Students might learn to count in Chinese. Use the following sources to teach them:

  • Chinese Numerals 1 to 10
  • Count from 1 to 10 in Chinese: Coloring Pages
  • Audio File of Basic Chinese: Shopping (find numbers one to ten in the glossary on this page)
  • Chinese/English Number Converter
  • Assessment

    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.4 Communication Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.11 Participating in Society
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    LANGUAGE ARTS: Foreign Language
    GRADES K - 12

    MATHEMATICS: Number and Operations
    GRADES Pre-K - 2
    NM-NUM.PK-2.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    GRADES 3 - 5
    NM-NUM.3-5.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    GRADES 6 - 8
    NM-NUM.6-8.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NM-NUM.9-12.1 Understand Numbers, Ways of Representing Numbers, Relationships Among Numbers, and Number Systems

    GRADES K - 12
    NPH.K-12.4 Physical Fitness
    NPH.K-12.7 Understanding Challenges

    GRADES K - 4
    NPH-H.K-4.4 Health Influences
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NPH-H.5-8.4 Health Influences
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NPH-H.9-12.4 Health Influences

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science

    SOCIAL SCIENCES: Geography
    GRADES K - 12
    NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
    NSS-G.K-12.5 Environment and Society

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2008 Education World