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Press Release - 26 February 2008

Bath pupils challenge UK schools to monitor local pollution

Pupils from Hayesfield school in Bath have challenged other schools from around the country to monitor the level of pollution in their local areas.

The year 10 pupils have been investigating the levels of carbon monoxide on the walk between their upper and lower school sites as part of an innovative project that aims to enthuse pupils about science.

Using specialised sensors and GPS, the Hayesfield pupils found that the highest levels of carbon monoxide could be found near the Lower School site.

Hayesfield pollution research - click to activate map

They now want other schools around the country to take part in the Participate project so that they can compare data using Google Earth and other internet-based tools.

Catherine Bradley, a Year 10 pupil from Hayesfield school, said: "I learned that environmental issues are not just in the newspapers, they affect everyday life.

“The media look at the political sides, but pollution is all around school and hardly anyone does anything about it.

"I hope people learn that everything they do has affects on the atmosphere, people could walk not drive.

“I also hope that scientists can develop better equipment for the future so more people can learn about this.”

Miss Tessa Charnaud, Head of Science at the school, said: "I think that this was an excellent opportunity for the girls at Hayesfield to actively participate in the collection and collation of relevant and up to date data about the air quality in our local area.

“It enabled them to work in teams and present their ideas in new and innovative ways. I really feel that all the groups have benefitted from this activity and would encourage other schools to do the same.”

As well as collecting environmental data, the Hayesfield pupils have produced digital science posters and short films on the topics they have been investigating.

These information resources have been uploaded to a secure website for schools so that they can be watched and shared by pupils and teachers in other schools involved in the Participate project.

“The Participate project aims to demonstrate and evaluate how new technologies can help people take a more active role in creating and sharing digital content,” said Dr Dawn Woodgate, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath, one of the researchers involved in the project.

“In the trial stages of the project, pupils have been asked to capture and contribute information about their local environment.

“It is hoped that as more schools become involved in the project that this will evolve into a national picture of environmental situations across the UK.”

So far 13 schools across the UK have been involved in Participate project activities related to monitoring the quality of their local environment, and more are currently being recruited.

Other Participate activities include a mobile game developed to help people understand ways in which they can monitor their own impact on the environment.

The partners behind the Participate project, funded by a £3 million grant from the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council, have expertise in online services, pervasive computing, broadcast media, sensors, event design and management, and education.

The partners are: BT, Microsoft Research Cambridge, BBC, Blast Theory, ScienceScope, University of Nottingham and the University of Bath.

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