Air is almost impossible to see, and it moves around, so identifying who is polluting it can be difficult.

In the spring of 2013, an 8th grade science class at Lyons Community School in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn worked with teaching artist Heidi Neilson to explore who is responsible for air quality in the school’s neighborhood. Students took to the streets and used air-casting monitors to take air pollution level readings around their school. They also interviewed an environmental lawyer to get insight on how the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act protects the nation’s air quality. 

Together, the class created a booklet that reports their findings on who’s responsible for creating the air pollution in their school’s neighborhood, and who’s responsible for cleaning it up and keeping it healthy for everyone.

You can see the booklet here.

What People are Saying

“The project did help me change the way I saw the city. Now I realize the smallest factories and stores can cause pollution.” – Monica Castro, student collaborator

“I thought the city was alright but now I see that the air is very polluted” – Marcell Lopez,student collaborator

“With CUP we investigated how air pollution travels and how it affects us. Also what areas are more polluted than others and who is responsible for it.” – Ebanny Santiago, 
student collaborator

Resources & Links

Lyons Community School is a small school in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, committed to providing a broad, stimulating experience in the liberal arts, and preparing students in grades 6 – 12 for college, healthy adulthood and life-long learning.

Funding Support

This program is supported, in part, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a subaward from Teachers College, Columbia University; and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Special Thanks

Michael Heimbinder, Jonathan Kalmuss-Katz, Oscar Nunez, and Jody Madell



  • Teaching artist
  • Heidi Neilson
  • Project lead
  • Valeria Mogilevich
  • Project support
  • Sam Holleran
  • Pema Domingo-Barker
    Lyons Community School

  • Classroom Teachers
  • James Burke
  • Rob Whiteman
  • Students
  • Jonathan Bryant
  • Jordan Byrdsell
  • Monica Castro
  • Kamani Harrell
  • Elijah Harris
  • Devale Johnson
  • Marcell Lopez
  • Matthew Lopez
  • Jahquon Mackey
  • David Mahon
  • Lleymi Martinez
  • Shearod Meadows
  • Devante Mitchell
  • Isaiah Morales
  • Jayda Nadal
  • Isabel Negron
  • Andrew Ruiz
  • Francisco Santos
  • Ebanny Santiago
  • Destiny Soto