The severity of Alexandra’s air pollution levels will be revealed by budding young scientists tomorrow.
Alexandra Primary School pupils, in conjunction with Niwa staff, will share their findings after tracking the town’s smoke levels over four months.
After learning about the town’s poor air quality, the school’s year 5 and 6 pupils took home a sensor, developed by Niwa, to monitor what was happening with smoke inside their homes.
They used an app to record whether or not they could see or smell smoke and if it affected their breathing or made them cough.
Niwa staff, including air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley, said the experiment was as much a learning curve for the children as it was for the adults.
“This was a lot more than a school project. The children acted as genuine scientists and we learnt as much as they did from the process.
“We weren’t giving them a finished product, we were giving them things we were trying for the first time.”
Dr Longley said the data collected showed a 10-fold difference in air quality inside homes sampled across the town.
The scientists are now teasing apart the different causes, but early indications show it was a combination of elements, including the way smoke is moved around the town by the breeze, differences in leaky and airtight homes, and emissions from within the houses, like smoking and cooking.
“Now it’s time to share these results with their parents and the wider community.
“The aim is to show Alexandra some new evidence about the complexity of the town’s air quality and stimulate some debate about how the situation can be improved.”
An exhibition of work by the children and scientists will take place tomorrow from 3pm at Centennial Court Motor Inn, followed by a public meeting at 6pm.