School’s Out

The pandemic must be well and truly behind us. I have been out and about loads this month.

Last week was British Science Week.  And as a British Scientist myself, I was fortunate enough to give a workshop on pollution in a local primary school.

people sitting on blue carpet

This year’s theme is connections, so I used this to talk about how our activities as people living our lives can cause pollution.

I was given the year one group, 100 five and six year-olds, and we had lots of fun.

Firstly, we talked about different types of pollution [land, water, air] and where it comes from.     

We then moved on to how we all get into and home from school. We did a hands up survey of who walked, wheeled and drove in and collected all the data. This method is used for school travel planning and, whilst not super accurate [some kids put their hands up for all modes], gives you a good idea.

The results were about 50% drive and 50% active modes which surprised me for a local primary school.

We then moved on to which modes produced the most pollution and how we can see this pollution. I brought in some cool technology so they could see some of the data plots our monitors produce and brought in an indoor monitor to show them what was going on inside the classroom.

We the made pollution catchers with paper plates and Vaseline, which was the absolute highlight of the day. I am looking forward to returning next week to see what we have collected.

My second trip out was to see one of our live monitoring networks. We have two small networks around schools in East London, and I met with a group of transport planners to discuss how the devices work, what pollutants they monitor and how the data is processed and visualised.

A pretty miserable day weather-wise, but it reminded me of why i got into the industry –  to   impact local communities positively.

And last but by no means least is the Northern Air Quality News Conference in Manchester. I am actually writing this blog on the train coming back from the conference. It was a fabulous day with many thought-provoking presentations and good chats with clients and colleagues at our stand.

I had a few clients attending, which we are already planning another two small school monitoring networks, alongside some behaviour change work with the local community. More on that project in the winter.

All my school-based travel and activity recently has given me a renewed focus on some of the messaging we use in air quality. How it is our actions that cause pollution [and climate change] and the key to solving both problems is to make sure that people appreciate the consequences of their actions and are empowered to make the positive changes that suite their own lifestyles, and those of their families and friends.


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