Air quality competition to teach children the impacts of pollution

Pupils from St Joseph’s Primary School, Glasgow have won a competition from Ricardo Energy & Environment which aimed to educate pupils on the causes and effects of air pollution. 

Air pollution is a growing concern for school children, according to the cycling charity Sustrans almost half (45%) of pupils aged 4-11 are concerned about air quality. 

So in October last year, engineering and environmental consultancy experts Ricardo launched an air quality competition for three primary schools in Glasgow.

Sussanah Tefler, from Ricardo, took a lesson with each school to teach the children more about the causes and effects of air pollution. 

The pupils then placed nitrogen dioxide (NO2) diffusion tubes at various points around the school grounds to measure how the harmful pollutant varied during different times of the day. 

The results were tested in a lab and made available to the schools, then for the competition, each pupil had to write a report describing the results and their experiences of doing this experiment. 

Cllr Anna Richardson, convener for sustainability and carbon reduction and Susannah Telfer from Ricardo then awarded a prize to two pupils from St Joseph’s Primary School who wrote the best report. 

Anna Richardson said: ‘Raising awareness of the impacts of air pollution from road traffic is critical to addressing this public health issue and serves to complement positive actions such as the introduction of Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone and initiatives that encourage a shift toward active and sustainable travel.

‘The citizen science project with Ricardo has clearly inspired the pupils and led to a much deeper understanding of the benefits of cleaner air.’ 

Susannah Tefler from Ricardo, said: ‘It’s been fantastic working with the school and listening to each pupils’ ideas.

‘The pupils’ knowledge of their school and the surrounding area has been essential when designing their study and its wonderful to see them working together with their classmates.

‘It’s great to be able to engage the next generation on such an important and topical issue.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay 


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