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The CLEAR Program

The CLEAR Program is designed to bring the research and science of CAICE to the public. CLEAR has developed particle counters, called CLEAR-CAICEs (pronounced CLEAR-Cases), that can be used by students and citizen scientists alike to study the aerosols in their community. Aerosols are solid or liquid particles that are suspended in the air, and tend to have very complex chemistry. CLEAR is an educational initiative that is designed to engage students in learning about the chemistry of aerosols, climate, and the environment by encouraging collaboration and experimentation.

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CLEAR seeks to broaden the reach of the university by bringing CAICE research directly to school campuses. In so doing, CLEAR will involve students directly in the research process and increase interest in environmental chemistry by creating a collaborative learning environment between CAICE scientists, students, and the public.

Through the CLEAR Program, students will explore:

  • Aerosol Sources and Impacts
    Students will understand the sources of aerosol particles in the environment, how the sources of aerosol particles affect their chemical composition, and the impacts of aerosols on health and climate.
  • Experimental Design
    Students will be able to formulate hypotheses about their environment and design controlled experiments.
  • Measurements and Instrumentation
    Students will understand how to collect and interpret data, and will gain insight into how chemists design instruments to learn about the world around us

Learning Materials

Learners of all ages and abilities can use an array of tools and instruments to learn about the world in which they live. Just as PhD-level scientists make detailed measurements of the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, so can school-age students use simpler tools, measure air pollutants in their classroom, and work together to find ways to clean up the air they breathe every day!

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Getting Started with CLEAR

This page contains resources for current CLEAR participants.

Materials to be submitted to CAICE:

Get involved in the clear program

Are you an instructor or community organization that is interested in becoming a part of the CLEAR program? Contact us for details!

* (required for all participants) – submit completed forms to your teacher.


Through a collaboration with Qualcomm Institute, CAICE is developing particle counters, called CLEAR-CAICEs (pronounced CLEAR-Cases), that can be used by students, citizen scientists, and university researchers to study levels of particulate matter in the atmosphere. These instruments use an air pump to generate a flow of air through an optical particle detector, which counts the number of particles in the sample. The optical particle detector then transmits the data to a computer or to a cell phone for analysis.

CLEAR-CAICE Components

The CLEAR-CAICE (pronounced CLEAR-Case) is an instrument that measures the number of particles in the air. It has two channels, one that counts the number of small particles (smaller than 1 micrometer), and one that counts the number of coarse particles (between 1-10 micrometers in diameter). A picture of the CLEAR-CAICE and its components is shown below. The instrument is in a clear case, so we can see all of the components.

The function of each component is listed below:

  • Optical Particle Counter: Uses light scattering to measure the number and size of particles (see next page)–this component is the heart of the instrument.
  • Air Pump: Pulls air from the environment through the air inlet and the particle counter, which allows us to sample the air in our environment.
  • GPS: tracks the location of the CLEAR-CAICE, so you can accurately report where you took your measurements.
    Cell Phone Modem: used to control the instrument and transmit the data from the optical particle counter to a website, where you can view the levels of particulate matter on your computer.
  • Charger: Converts AC power from a wall outlet to DC current, which is used to run the instrument.
  • Power Supply: Stores power for running the instrument off of battery (not shown, stored below other components)
  • Barrier Box (power): Helps transmit power from the power supply to the other components (ie optical particle counter, cell phone modem)
  • Pump Power Supply: Decreases the voltage from the main power supply to provide the correct voltage to the air pump. The voltage supplied to the air pump determines the rate of air flow.
  • Barrier Box (signal): Helps transmit signals from the switches on the side of the instrument to the cell phone modem.

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