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Project

SAMHE: Schools’ air quality monitoring for health and education

SAMHE (pronounced ‘Sammy’) stands for Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education. It is a citizen science project that has been designed with and for UK schools. SAMHE aims to establish a network of air quality monitors in schools across the UK to help us better understand schools’ indoor air quality. This is important because poor air quality can have impacts on pupils’ health and concentration levels.

Active project

2022–2024

Project contact

Sarah West / sarah.west@sei.org

Teenagers working in school classroom

Teenagers working in school classroom.

Photo: Phil Boorman / Getty images.

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 monitor on a desk with a plant and some stationary

SAMHE monitor Photo: SAMHE project

SAMHE also aims to give school communities the power to understand and improve their air quality. To that end we have created an interactive Web App that pupils and teachers can use to interact with the data from their monitor. They can see how their air quality changes over the course of hours, days or weeks and months. This creates opportunities for pupils to be scientists and do hands-on experiments with their monitors. It also gives students and teachers the knowledge and agency they need to control their own air quality, for example through opening and closing windows.

SAMHE Web App

SAMHE Web App

The short video below introduces the Web App, highlighting the ways pupils and teachers can view and interact with the data from the SAMHE monitor and the range of curriculum-linked activities available. We also touch on the achievement badges pupils can work towards, and embedded glossary links to help students understand important terms.

A short tour of the SAMHE Web App

We are continuing to expand and develop the Web App throughout the life of the project. 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 are 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).

Watch this three minute Introducing SAMHE video to hear project leads Henry Burridge and Sarah West (SEI) introduce the project and teachers share how they are using SAMHE and the benefits for their pupils, themselves and their schools.

Schools helped co-design and test the SAMHE project before it was formally launched in 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.

SAMHE logo

June 2024

SAMHE is transitioning. We’re still working with UK schools to better understand classroom air quality but are no longer recruiting new schools to host monitors. We had a big rush of registrations leading up to the 31 May deadline and are delighted to now have SAMHE monitors in 1300 schools across the UK.

We will soon release a Teacher Resource Pack to enable schools without a monitor to access SAMHE activities. Schools can sign up to the SAMHE newsletter via our contact form to hear when this is available.

The June 2024 issue of the SAMHE Newsletter features features new activities, a poster competition for Clean Air Day (20th June), an invitation to schools and others to join us at a webinar to hear what the project has discovered about air quality in UK schools, and more.

May 2024

Sam Bland will introduce primary and secondary schools students to the SAMHE project through an interactive workshop at the annual event PECT Eco Awards for schools in Peterborough. Earlier in the month he ran a design jam at the Software Sustainability Institute Collaborations Workshop, where participants collaborated to create a new Web App activity.

See new SAMHE publications, including a technical report on air quality in SAMHE schools during the Autumn term 2023.

April 2024

The April 2024 issue of the SAMHE Newsletter features new activities, support from STEM Ambassadors for SAMHE schools and how engaging with SAMHE can support schools’ work on sustainable travel through Modeshift STARS.

Rhys Archer presented SAMHE at the European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) conference.

March 2024

Rhys Archer presented the SAMHE project at the Northern Air Quality Conference.

Rhys also addressed the Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) member’s forum, discussing how science centres could get involved in SAMHE and Victoria Beale ran a feedback session with year 9 pupils through the Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach (neaco)’s ‘Take Your Place’ programme.

February 2024

For each of the five air quality metrics (CO2, PM2.5, TVOCs, temperature and relative humidity) measured by the SAMHE monitor, schools can now view the data in three ways:

    • a simple gauge chart (speedometer style!) showing the level at a single moment;
    • a single-axis scatter plot where the level at each time point is indicated by the size and colour of the circle; or
    • a double-axis scatter plot (a typical graph style used with secondary level students).
Screenshot of the Data home screen in the SAMHE Web App showing a selection of the available data visualisations including gauge charts and both single and double axis scatter plots, many with colour coding.

The SAMHE Web App Data home screen showing some of the data visualizations available to schools.

Schools can also download their data and create their own plots.

The reason for providing the data in three different ways is that SAMHE has been designed to support school pupils of all ages. We worked closely with teachers and pupils at both primary and secondary schools to decide how to present the data.

The February 2024 issue of the SAMHE Newsletter featured SAMHE activities for schools for British Science Week 8-17 March, including experiments and our new SAMHE careers activity.

January 2024

You can now read short, simple summaries of SAMHE project reports and research papers on our new outputs page. There are suitable for older school students. As a citizen science project, it’s important that we share our outputs in an accessible way with all who contribute to the research, including teachers and pupils at SAMHE schools.

Watch a three minute Introducing SAMHE video to hear project leads Henry Burridge and Sarah West (SEI) introduce the project and teachers share how they are using SAMHE and the benefits for their pupils, themselves and their schools.

December 2023

The first two papers from the SAMHE project have now been published. See the SAMHE publications list for details.

The December 2023 issue of the SAMHE Newsletter introduced our end of term quiz, careers resource and the first SAMHE research papers and announced the winner of our November connection competition.

November 2023

The November 2023 issue of the SAMHE newsletter was sent out on 8 November – World Ventil8 Day. It introduced a new Web App activity (a video on the science of ventilation followed by a quiz), improved data views, easier-to-use activity steps, our new connection competition, the first results from analyzing the SAMHE air quality data, and more.

Air Quality News Magazine published a three page article (p. 10-12) on the project, under the title ‘UK schools help monitor classroom air quality in massive citizen science project’. We have also reproduced that as an SEI perspective (see below).

October 2023

Professor Sarah West was interviewed for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in its most recent briefing on indoor air quality. Read a feature discussing her contribution to the POST briefing, based on her work on SAMHE and also the INGENIOUS project which is investigating air quality in UK homes.

September 2023 (part 3)

This month Rhys Archer gave a webinar on the SAMHE project for the Institute of Air Quality Management (IAQM). Watch her 20 mins talk to see what the (newly revamped!) SAMHE Web App looks like, how schools helped design it and how pupils and teachers are now using it to investigate their classroom air quality.

Rhys Archer presents the SAMHE project in a IAQM webinar

September 2023 (part 2)

SAMHE was included as a case study in the The Child of the North: Addressing Education and Health Inequity report, published September 2023. The report highlights how children born into the poorest fifth of families in the UK are almost 13 times more likely to experience poor health and educational outcomes by the age of 17.

Sarah West said:

“I was delighted to contribute a case study about the SAMHE project to this important report, as citizen science projects like this can be an important way of empowering schools to better understand their environment and take low cost actions to improve it, thereby reducing inequalities.”

Read a press release about the report’s publication.

September 2023

Early in the month we released the exciting new SAMHE Web App activity ‘Data Detectives’, which supports pupils to investigate data patterns they find interesting, including formulating a research question and finding an answer backed by evidence. We also finalized the Web App makeover, giving it a new colour scheme and improving navigation, helping pupils and teachers to find our activities and resources more easily.

Read about these developments, and much more, in the September 2023 issue of the SAMHE newsletter.

SAMHE Web App

New look SAMHE Web App

June 2023

We now have over 800 schools registered with the project. This was boosted by a piece on SAMHE by BBC Newsround, with Newsround presenter Ricky Boleto and SAMHE lead Henry Burridge visiting to one of our Pioneer Schools.

Read the June 2023 issue of the SAMHE newsletter.

May 2023

We’re delighted to have seen a rush of schools signing up to take part in the project! This has been helped by a large number of school-facing organizations sharing our promotional material, inclusion in a Department for Education sector mailing, and media coverage including an article in Schools Week.

April 2023

SAMHE has launched! From today (24 April), schools across the UK are able to register to receive their SAMHE monitor and access to the Web App. SAMHE will be available to 1500+ UK schools and we hope to recruit a wide diversity of schools across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, representative of the whole UK school community.

Read the press release.

SAMHE launch card with launch dates 24-28 April and logos of partner organisations.

Read the April 2023 issue of the SAMHE newsletter.

March 2023

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.

The screenshot shows the home view of the Web App, with options to view the air quality data or start and activity.

Screenshot from the SAMHE Web App in development

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!

SAMHE logo

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.

SAMHE publications with named SEI authors

Full list of SAMHE publications

Academic papers
Technical reports

8 November 2023

Air Quality News Magazine published a three page article (p. 10-12) on the SAMHE project in their November issue, launched on World Ventil8 Day, under the title ‘UK schools help monitor classroom air quality in massive citizen science project’. SAMHE also featured on the front cover of the issue.

Front cover of magazine with a photo of school children using tablets and the headline text "The SAMHE Project - tracking air quality in schools"

SAMHE made the cover of the November issue of Air Quality News Magazine Image: Air Quality News Magazine.

Research Team

SAMHE is a collaboration between the following organizations:

Meet the SAMHE team.

SEI York is leading on stakeholder engagement, including co-design and project communications.
See the SEI York members of the SAMHE team.

Supported by:

The following organizations are providing support by promoting SAMHE to their networks:

Suppliers/contractors:

  • AirGradient is supplying the SAMHE air quality monitors
  • HDSDev is supplying web development consultancy for the creation of the front-end application

Funding

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).

SAMHE project team and funder logos

SAMHE team, partner and funder logos

Co-design

Graphic illustration of teachers, pupils and researchers working together, partly via videoconferencing, to design the SAMHE Web App

SAMHE co-design process

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).

SAMHE logo

SAMHE logo

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 helped us iron out potential issues schools could face in setting up and connecting their monitor. They also gave valuable feedback on the Web App, the initial activities it offers and the in-app achievement structure and rewards system.

Following the co-design and pioneer phases, SAMHE launched fully in April 2023.

Read more about the SAMHE co-design process.

SEI Team

Sarah West

Centre Director

SEI York

Lucy Way SEI Profile Picture
Lucy Way

Project Coordinator

SEI York

Sam Bland
Sam Bland

Software Developer

SEI York

Victoria Beale

Communications Specialist

Communications

SEI York

Rhys Archer
Rhys Archer

Research Fellow

SEI York

Douglas Wang

Software Developer

SEI York

To keep up with project developments:

A section of a recent SAMHE newsletter

Image: SAMHE project.

Design and development by Soapbox.