Published: 6th SEPTEMBER 2019

Investigating air quality at St Sidwell’s School

Year three students at St. Sidwell’s Church of England Primary School and Nursery in Devon took part in a six week air quality project to raise awareness of air pollution found in the area.

primary school children look at lichen on a tree

Students at St Sidwell's took part in a six week air quality project.

St Sidwell’s is next to a busy road in the east of Exeter city centre. A large number of cars, buses and lorries drive on the road.

Exeter city council's air quality monitoring recorded high NO2 levels on the road compared to other areas of Exeter.

The school wanted to raise awareness of poor air quality, and the impact it has on children’s health. Encouraging parents to choose active travel for the school run, rather than driving.

Sustrans worked with the school to deliver a six week air quality project to Year Three pupils. They learnt about pollution, its causes and its effect on health.

Learning about air pollution and how to spot it

Students placed diffusion tubes around the school to measure NO2.

They conducted a lichen survey. And took part in a leaf cleaning experiment.

The results were used to determine levels of particulate matter in the area. And to compare levels along the busy road, with levels in a park.

Students analysed the data from the diffusion tubes. They used their findings to map their own clean air routes to school. 

Spreading the word

Year Three took part in activities to share their findings with others:

  • delivering an assembly to the rest of the school
  • setting up an information session for parents
  • organising a poster competition
  • writing letters to the Prime Minister

On Clean Air Day

Year Three encouraged everyone to travel actively to school on Clean Air Day. And those that did enjoyed a healthy breakfast when they arrived.

Over 120 children and staff walked, cycled and scooted into school to join the celebration.

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We really enjoyed finding out about the different causes of air pollution and exploring the local area looking for signs of it. The class were really engaged with the sessions and were excited to contribute their ideas.” Blockquote quotation marks
Year three teacher, St Sidwell's
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