Willowfield School helps develop SAMHE project so UK school children can study their classroom air quality.
Teachers and students at Willowfield have helped scientists design and test an exciting new research project. SAMHE (pronounced ‘Sammy’!) stands for Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education. It offers schools a free air quality monitor linked to an interactive Web App, enabling staff and students to view and investigate data on their classroom air quality.
SAMHE has been designed WITH and FOR schools. Willowfield is one of 120 ‘Pioneer Schools’ which helped test and refine a beta version of the Web App. Now that SAMHE is up and running our science club have been enjoying using it!
So far, Willowfield’s science club have used SAMHE to investigate the products of combustion. During the investigation, they set various items alight over a Bunsen burner and recorded the change in carbon dioxide and particulates in the classroom. The students loved being a part of this research and they all demonstrated great investigative skills. In the future, they are planning to investigate the air quality in different parts of the school, and the air quality following a range of experiments.
‘Using the Bunsen burners is always fun and it’s interesting to be able to see the change in the air around us ’
‘We would love it if it was portable so that we could check the air quality outside compared to inside the school’
SAMHE is now ready for launch! From the week of 24 April schools are invited to register as a SAMHE school. They will receive a free high-spec air quality monitor that measures carbon dioxide (CO2), total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), particulate matter (PM), temperature and relative humidity. Through the SAMHE Web App, teachers and pupils can view the data in a range of interactive chart and graph formats and see how air quality changes over the course of hours, days or weeks and months. The App also offers a range of curriculum-linked activities and experiments using the data, creating opportunities for pupils to be scientists and do hands-on experiments with their monitor. Poor air quality impacts pupils’ health and attention levels, so it is important it is monitored and understood.
The quality of our air is important. After all, around 10,000 litres of air passes through each person’s body every day. However, air often contains pollutants that can have impacts on our health, ability to concentrate and levels of attainment. Young people spend lots of time at school so we want to make sure that the air in classrooms is good, and give schools access to data that will enable both students and teachers to make informed decisions about ventilation.
“The input of teachers and pupils has been critical to ensuring that the SAMHE meets schools’ needs and is fun and engaging for pupils.” - Dr Sarah West (schools engagement lead for SAMHE), Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York
SAMHE is a citizen science project. As well as being available to the school, air quality data from the monitor is collated in a national database and made available to scientists. Six research organisations are collaborating to deliver the project, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and support from the Department for Education.
The SAMHE team hopes to recruit 1500+ schools covering the full range of school types, sizes, locations and building styles. This will provide sufficient data to understand schools’ air quality across the UK.
“Our overall aim is to understand and improve long-term air quality for all schools and provide evidence for better national policies and practice.” -
Dr Henry Burridge (project lead for SAMHE), Imperial College London