University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign I Mark

Reactive nitrogen exchange between agricultural land and the atmosphere

Environmental Engineering and Sustainability G.A.M.E.S. camp

Members of our group initiated the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability track of the Girls Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (G.A.M.E.S.) camp, in 2012. The camp covers topics on Air Quality, Renewable Energy (Wind, Solar, Tidal, Biofuels), Water Quality, Nanotechnology and Sustainability. Members of our research team have developed and delivered lessons and laboratory activities on Sustainability, Air Quality, the Nitrogen Cycle, Ammonia in the Atmosphere, Visualization of Atmospheric Deposition Data with ArcGIS and Air Pollution Control. The purpose of the week long camp is to introduce high school age female students to different fields of Engineering and inspire and motivate them to follow careers in Engineering.

Environmental Engineering and Sustainability G.A.M.E.S. track

Example learning modules

  1. Introduction to Air Quality: composition of the atmosphere, sources and impacts of criteria air pollutants.
  2. Dispersion of Air Pollutants: Physical model of plume dispersion is used to demonstrate the influence of wind, source height, building effects. Numerical model of pollutant transport and dispersion, HYSPLIT (, is used to demonstrate how scientists use basic scientific principles and scenarios to estimate air pollutant fates in the atmosphere, since measurements and physical models cannot cover all source locations at all times.
  3. Nitrogen Cycle: This module introduces the basics of biogeochemical cycles with special focus on the nitrogen cycle and the reactive nitrogen cascade. A nitrogen card game is played to reinforce the concepts of biogeochemical cycling. The linkages among food production, nitrogen cycle, air and water quality are discussed.
  4. Ammonia in the environment: sources and effects are discussed and then the students work on a laboratory exercise to measure ammonia concentrations before and after application of nitrogen fertilizer to corn plants that have been seeded and grown in pots. Students discuss bias that can affect their measurements in a class-lab environment and are introduced to the quality control-quality assurance concepts.
  5. Air Pollution Control: Basic principles of adsorption and properties of activated carbon fiber cloth are discussed. A demonstration follows of a Portable Silica Gel Swing Adsorption System that cyclically adsorbs and desorbs water vapor. The portable system is built for educational purposes to operate in the same cyclical way as the research, bench-scale prototype, air cleaning device, that enables removal of hazardous gaseous air pollutants, with energy savings and reclamation/recycling of valuable materials, for industrial processes.

  6. 2015_EES_GAMES_Student_manual
    2016_EES_GAMES_Student_manual (PDF Portfolio)

    Note: These manuals have been developed for classroom use and not for publication purposes. Unintentional citation omissions or typing errors might still be present. If you identify such errors, please notify us. If you use any of these lessons for your class, we would love to hear your feedback (e-mail to:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number (NSF-1236814). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.