Ozone Theater is an interactive enrichment program for kindergarten and elementary school classrooms offered by Air Alliance Houston to teach students about the importance of air quality, air pollution, its sources, and its effects on human health.

Why Ozone Theater?

Air pollution is a frequent problem in major metropolitan areas in the United States, and one of its primary components is ozone. This widespread pollutant can be found in cities across the nation. Ozone can cause numerous health problems, particularly among children and other sensitive people.

Children in the Houston-Galveston area are exposed to more ozone air pollution than most kids around the country, particularly during warm, dry summer months. Our local ozone levels have exceeded federal health standards for several decades, and are among the worst in the country. Too much ozone in the air we breathe can cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, watery eyes and scratchy throats. It can also trigger asthma attacks and intensify allergic reactions. Children suffer more than adults from the health consequences of ozone air pollution because:

  • Their lungs and immune systems are still developing.
  • Pound for pound, they breathe in 50% more air than adults.
  • They tend to spend more time outdoors than adults, especially during the summer, when ozone levels are highest.
  • They tend to participate in more vigorous outdoor activities than most adults.

 How Does Ozone Theater Work?

  • Air Alliance Houston will send a trained teaching artist into a classroom to lead a thirty five minute workshop with up to thirty students at a time. The teaching artist uses drama-based educational techniques to teach students about air pollution. Students get up on their feet and move around the classroom as they act out situations related to air pollution.
  • Three age-appropriate curricula are aligned to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) objectives in science, health, language arts, and fine arts.
  • Kindergarten through second grade students are introduced to the concept of air pollution, the difference between clean air and dirty air, and they act out various sources of air pollution
    such as a bus, a car, a plane, a factory, a gas station, etc. Students in grades third through fifth learn the difference between good ozone and bad ozone. They are introduced to the federal government’s Air Quality Index, the scale used by the EPA to indicate the amount of pollution measured in the air at any given time and location, and they act out appropriate, safe activities for times when ozone levels are elevated.
  • Teachers receive an Activity Guide for their classroom that is full of reinforcement and follow up activities including science experiments, creative projects, puzzles, games, and instructions
    on how to get up-to-date information on ozone levels in their area.
  • Qualifying schools can also earn a set of Ozone Warning Flags to display the daily ozone forecast to the community.

What is Drama-Based Education?

  • Drama-based education employs theater techniques to get students out of their chairs, away from their desks, moving around the classroom, and actively engaging with the material that they’re learning. The essential element of activating the students’ bodies, voices, and imaginations can be applied to any and all academic disciplines. This type of teaching creates equal learning opportunities for all kinds of learners regardless of age, race, language, and learning style.
  • Studies have shown that the use of drama-based education motivates students to be more excited about learning, minimizes disruptive behavior in the classroom, and improves information retention as proven by increased test scores. Ozone Theater teaching artists employ pre- and post-tests to demonstrate the learning involved in the program, and teachers evaluate each workshop to ensure the persistence of quality.
  • Ozone Theater was developed in 2003 by Mothers for Clean Air (now Air Alliance Houston) in collaboration with the Theater Outreach and Education program at University of Texas
    Medical Branch in Galveston.

 Who Recommends Ozone Theater?

Ozone Theater was awarded the Clean Air Excellence Award by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2007, the President’s Cabinet Award from University of Texas Medical Branch in 2006, and
a Mayor’s Proud Partner Certificate of Recognition from the City of Houston in 2006.
Here’s what educators who have booked Ozone Theater in the past have to say:

  • “Very informative, and the children were interested and engaged. It’s a great lead-in for our Science Fair project.”
    – Houston ISD Elementary School Teacher
  • “After school, as we were waiting for parents to pick students up, I heard a couple of kids talk about the bus’s tail pipe and pollution. I think they got it.”
    – Houston ISD Elementary School Teacher
  • “My teachers were impressed, and they’re a tough group to impress.”
    -Pasadena ISD Science Curriculum Manager
  • “We had fun learning from [the leader’s] positive, innovative techniques. [The students] did gain new knowledge and the bookmarks they received from the presenter were an added treat! Thank you for arranging this wonderful program.”
    -Elementary Environmental Educator at Environmental Institute of Houston-Clear Lake
  • “I love all the actions and movements. Great for young children! [The students] were very engaged. [The Teaching Artist] was very energetic and patient with the kids. I learned a lot too!”
    -Humble ISD Elementary School Teacher

Download our TEKS aligned creative activity guide.


Ozone Theater has engaged over 14,000 students in over 800 classrooms across five counties with a fun, informative way to learn about an issue that is extremely important to our region.