Pupils study air quality around schools in Brighton & Hove

CIVITAS Initiative

Balfour Junior School is the first in the city to take part in a groundbreaking science project that involves monitoring vehicle emissions near schools. Brighton & Hove City Council has joined with Imperial College, London and Duvas technologies to run the project, which will use real evidence to improve understanding of the effects of transport activity on local air quality.

Community scientists have been working with the teachers to develop lessons and pupils have visited Imperial College and the Science Museum. Accompanying educational programmes will also help the children develop an understanding of the biodiversity in their local environment.Data was collected during the last two weeks of Walk to School Month in October and is continuing into November. Pupils are able to look at the results in the school’s IT suite and are carrying out experiments with a portable unit that they can move around the playground to see how emissions travel.The project is providing many unique opportunities to develop pupils’ interest in science, using new technology and practical data. Councillor Vanessa Brown, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn more about their environment from scientific experts and find out how science applies to their world.”The monitoring will also give the council a greater understanding of the impact of ‘Walk to School’ initiatives from various perspectives; from driver habits to local air quality. Elm Grove and St Bartholomew’s primary schools will be the next schools to take part in the two-year project. They will join with a national initiative that aims to create and inspire a new generation of nature lovers through learning about the environment and how to protect it. Monitoring equipment is being provided by Duvas technologies and the project is funded by CIVITAS. The city council won £2.2 million to invest in small-scale transport projects and is the only city in the country to win European money from the CIVITAS Plus (ARCHIMEDES) Project for such schemes. Council officers are working with five other cities in Europe to share best practice, experience and skills. The national initiative is called the OPAL project - more at www.opalexplorenature.org

Author: Debbie Reed

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