Why do we need to understand indoor air pollution?
The quality of our air is important. After all, around 10,000 litres of air passes through each person’s body every day. UK residents spend around 90% of their time indoors, yet regulations to address air pollution focus almost solely on outdoor exposure. Our indoor air often contains pollutants that can damage our health. Since young people spend lots of time at school, it is important to make sure that the air in classrooms is good, and improve it where it isn’t.
About the project
SAMHE is a collaboration between five UK universities and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The SAMHE research team aims to establish a school-based network of air quality monitors which is representative of the UK’s schools. Through that network we will record measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) along with temperature and relative humidity.
SAMHE also aims to give school communities the power to understand and improve their air quality. To that end we are developing an interactive Web App that pupils and teachers can use to interact with the data from their monitor. They will be able to see how their air quality changes over the course of hours, days or weeks and months. This will create opportunities for pupils to be scientists and do hands-on experiments with their monitors. It will also give students and teachers the knowledge and agency they need to control their own air quality, for example through opening and closing windows.
Some of the activities promoted through the Web App will be curriculum-linked. All of the activities have been designed to be flexible, so schools can do them as little or often as they like, for example, for one particular module for one class, or in a regular slot for a science or eco club.
UK Schools will be invited to participate, free of charge, in SAMHE. It is open to primary, middle and secondary schools and sixth form colleges. (Unfortunately exclusively early years schools cannot be accommodated).
Schools are helping co-design and test the SAMHE project before it is formally launched at the end of April 2023. Read more about the co-design process.
Ultimately SAMHE aims to enhance understanding of air quality in schools to evidence national policies that result in improved health & education through changes in air-quality. We also aim to increase the engagement of school children in air quality science, potentially leading to a step-change in future national awareness.
Read the March 2023 issue of the SAMHE newsletter.
February 2023 – Beta testing phase nearly complete
Over the last few months our SAMHE Pioneer Schools have been testing and reviewing important aspects of the SAMHE offering to ensure that it meets schools’ needs.
With their feedback we have revised our instructions for schools logging in and connecting their SAMHE air quality monitors and improved the functionality of the data views on the Web App. They have also tried out our first Web App Activities and helped us refine our in-app ‘Achievements’ structure and the rewards strategy for how badges and certificates are gained.
Over the coming few weeks Pioneer schools will be invited to start testing our new ‘Data Detectives’ activity, which will help students investigate ‘spikes’ in their air quality data and explore what could be causing them.
That will bring our beta testing process with schools to an end. The SAMHE team will continue to implement the feedback, create new activities and tidy up the Web App and SAMHE website ready for the official SAMHE launch after Easter when we make SAMHE available to another 1500+ schools.
October 2022 – SAMHE ‘pioneer schools’ are go!
Our school registration form is now live. If you are are a staff member at a UK school, you can sign your school up to receive a SAMHE air quality monitor this autumn and help test the beta version of the SAMHE Web App.
October 2022 – SAMHE website launched
The SAMHE website is now live. Visit it to read more about the project and find out how UK schools can get involved.
September 2022 – SAMHE logo design finalized
The SAMHE co-design schools have helped us design our logo, which we are very pleased with!
May 2022 – The process of co-design has begun!
Teachers from our first co-design schools have met with members of the SAMHE team to start shaping the design and functionality of the web app. We have also started getting feedback on possible logo ideas from young people.
- SEI York at the University of York
- Imperial College London
- University of Cambridge
- Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey
- University of Leeds
- UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)
SEI York is leading on stakeholder engagement, including co-design and project communications.
The following organizations are providing support by promoting SAMHE to their networks:
- Global Centre for Clean Air Research, University of Surrey
- Centre for Applied Education Research (CAER)
- Camden Clean Air
- AirGradient is supplying the SAMHE air quality monitors
- HDSDev is supplying web development consultancy for the creation of the front-end application
Initial funding was provided by the Department for Education, which continues to be involved. Funding for the main project is provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Around 20 schools worked with the research team to co-design aspects of the project. They helped shape the design and functionality of the interactive Web App and shared ideas for activities it could offer. They also helped design the SAMHE logo (below).
In Autumn 2022 a further 100+ schools joined us as ‘SAMHE Pioneer Schools’. They received SAMHE air quality monitors and access to the beta version of the SAMHE Web App.
Pioneer schools have helped us iron out potential issues schools could face in setting up and connecting their monitor. They have also given valuable feedback on the Web App, the initial activities it offers and the in-app achievement structure and rewards system.
We are now in the final phase of implementing Pioneer school feedback and creating new activities ready for the SAMHE launch at the end of April 2023.
- Centre Director
- SEI York
- Communications Specialist
- SEI York
- Software Developer
- SEI York
- Communications Manager
- SEI York
To keep up with project developments you can:
Read past issues of the SAMHE newsletter