School children make their own air pollution catchers for ScienceFest

Mums for Lungs, a grassroots clean air campaign network, has been collaborating with some of the most prestigious scientific organisations in the UK, alongside primary and secondary schools in South London. Imperial College, University College London, Nottingham University, the Dyson Foundation, and more are giving workshops.

As part of ScienceFest! children at Ashmole Primary School in Vauxhall, South London, made their own air pollution catchers this week. In a collaboration with Vortex IoT, this workshop looked at the impact of air pollution and the positive changes we can make to our environment.

Inspired by the data from Vortex’s air quality monitors, the children created their own version of air pollution monitors, to hang up at home or keep at school, using paper plates and Vaseline – or ‘pollution slime’, as the children called it.

‘I showed them one I’d made earlier,’ said Nick Ruxton-Boyle, Director of Environment at Vortex IOT, who held the workshop. ‘It had been hanging by a bus route for four weeks, so it was pretty mucky.’

The children also made posters explaining the dangers of air pollution. ‘They were very engaged and knowledgeable,’ said Ruxton-Boyle.

Nasra Mohamed, the Science Lead at the school said: ‘The children are very enthusiastic about ensuring we do our part to protect the planet, but the workshop has ignited a new level of curiosity and engagement.’

‘The festival aims to talk to school communities about air pollution in a way that fits the curriculum and suits schools,’ said Claire McDonald, Schools Lead at Mums for Lungs. ‘It’s a great way of giving schools access to some amazing science while broadening awareness of air pollution.’

Ruxton-Boyle agrees:  ‘The awareness stage, in terms of air pollution, is an element that is often neglected. We’re proud to be working with Mums for Lungs in educating young children on these crucial environmental topics, as we work towards cleaner air and a healthier planet.’

The festival has held three workshops so far, with more planned over the next month. By the end of the school year, a small army of junior citizen scientists, aged between 4 and 16, can spread the word about air pollution in South London.

‘We have a big event taking place to celebrate Clean Air Day in June,’ said Jemima Hartshorn, founder of Mums for Lungs, ‘and we’re inviting these amazing young people to come and tell us what they have learnt about air pollution. The Carnival of Clean Air takes place on Thursday, June 8th, a week before Clean Air Day, on one of Lambeth’s School Streets’.

It will feature a Science Trail, including scientists and academics from the ScienceFest!, alongside choirs, local leaders and a brass band. If you’d like to get involved, contact


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