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Winning Pupils Embrace Citizen Science to Investigate Air Quality

Enthusiastic environmentalists from St Joseph's Primary School in Glasgow have been declared winners of a report writing competition, following practical learning sessions with air quality specialists Ricardo Energy & Environment, as part of a citizen science project to study levels of air pollution within their own school estate.

Last year, the pupils from St Joseph's, along with those from St Monica's and Clyde Primary Schools, placed nitrogen dioxide diffusion tubes at various points in their respective school grounds to measure how much of the harmful pollutant was in the air during the monitoring period.

Each school group worked as a team to plot the locations of the tubes and prior to the practical exercise, they participated in a classroom learning session with air quality scientist, Susannah Telfer, from Ricardo Energy & Environment, which gave the pupils an insight in to the causes and effects of air pollution.

Each set of results was scientifically tested in a laboratory and made available to the schools so they were able to assess the differences in air quality within their school grounds and discuss with each other reasons for these variances.

To gain a deeper understanding of their own results, the children participated in a report writing competition about their experiences, with the winners of the most impressive report presented with a certificate of achievement from Cllr Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction and Susannah Telfer from Ricardo.

Councillor Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said; "Raising awareness of the impacts of air pollution from road traffic is critical to addressing this public health issue and serves to compliment positive actions such as the introduction of Glasgow's Low Emission Zone and initiatives that encourage a shift toward active and sustainable travel. This citizen science project with Ricardo has clearly inspired the pupils and led to a much deeper understanding of the benefits of cleaner air."

Laura Slinger, Principal Teacher at St Joseph's Primary School, said: "Our pupils spent a block of learning exploring report writing to prepare for the competition and I'm delighted that all this hard work has paid off. The sessions that Ricardo delivered allowed for an effective balance of theory and practical application. This allowed the children to engage in the distribution and collection of air samples with all the necessary knowledge and understanding. It also gave the children insight into various environmental careers that exist which was an added benefit of the partnership. Going forward, we now intend to actively respond to our results."

Susannah Telfer from Ricardo Energy & Environment, said: "It's been fantastic working with the schools and listening to each pupils' ideas. The pupils' knowledge of their school and the surrounding area has been essential when designing their study and it's 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".

Ricardo Energy & Environment has been providing the Scottish Government and Scotland's private sector with support in resource efficiency, carbon management, renewables and air quality for over a decade.


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