Schools invited to contribute to air-quality project

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ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz

Schools across parts of Otago will soon have air pollution levels on their radar.

Central Otago schools are among those that have been invited to gather data for the Healthy Air for Healthy Lives project, which aims to measure particulate air pollution in Dunedin and beyond.

The project is offered by the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technology, and will be supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Curious Minds programme.

It will also work in partnership with the Otago Museum, the University of Otago’s Department of Physics and Enviroschools.

It is a “citizen science project”, which allows school groups to set up laser-based particulate sensors to record and analyse data from their schools and local environments.

Dodd-Walls Centre director David Hutchinson said the project was in its early stages, but had already received interest from at least one Central Otago school.

Each participating school will receive a sensor, which the children can place where they think it would be most beneficial.

“They can take their own data . around their schools or around their homes,” he said.

“The idea is to provide a comprehensive map of air quality and pollution in Dunedin and further afield.”

The project has received funding from Curious Minds, which is a government initiative that encourages and supports all New Zealanders to ask questions, solve local problems and uncover innovative science and technology solutions for a brighter future.

A similar project by Niwa last year was supported by Alexandra Primary School’s year 5 and 6 pupils, who recorded woodburner smoke levels inside their homes using sensors they built.

For more information about the Healthy Air for Healthy Lives project email David.Hutchinson@otago.ac.nz