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Didcot Girls' School helps develop SAMHE project to study classroom air quality

Posted on: 24/04/2023

Teachers and pupils at Didcot Girls’ School have helped scientists design and test an exciting new research project. SAMHE (pronounced ‘Sammy’!) stands for Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education. It offers schools a free air quality monitor linked to an interactive Web App, enabling staff and students to view and investigate data on their classroom air quality. SAMHE is now ready for launch! From the week of 24th April schools are invited to register as a SAMHE school. They will receive a free high-spec air quality monitor that measures carbon dioxide (CO2), total volatile organic compounds (TVOCs), particulate matter (PM), temperature and relative humidity. Through the SAMHE Web App, teachers and pupils can view the data in a range of interactive chart and graph formats and see how air quality changes over the course of hours, days or weeks and months. The App also offers a range of curriculum-linked activities and experiments using the data, creating opportunities for pupils to be scientists and do hands-on experiments with their monitor. Poor air quality impacts pupils’ health and attention levels, so it is important it is monitored and understood.

SAMHE has been designed WITH and FOR schools. Didcot Girls’ School is one of 120 ‘Pioneer Schools’ which helped test and refine a beta version of the Web App. The school’s Senior Science Club studied the air quality in the room at their weekly meetings and gave feedback to the SAMHE team on the design of the Web App.

“It was fascinating to see variations in indoor air quality throughout the school day and to study how air quality is affected by factors like class size and ages of students in the room.” – Dr Lynn Nickerson, STEM Coordinator, Didcot Girls’ School.

“The input of teachers and pupils has been critical to ensuring that the SAMHE meets schools’ needs and is fun and engaging for pupils.” - Dr Sarah West (schools engagement lead for SAMHE), Stockholm Environment Institute, University of York.

SAMHE is a citizen science project. As well as being available to the school, air quality data from the monitor is collated in a national database and made available to scientists. Six research organisations are collaborating to deliver the project, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and support from the Department for Education.

The SAMHE team hopes to recruit 1500+ schools covering the full range of school types, sizes, locations and building styles. This will provide sufficient data to understand schools’ air quality across the UK.

“Our overall aim is to understand and improve long-term air quality for all schools and provide evidence for better national policies and practice.” - Dr Henry Burridge (project lead for SAMHE), Imperial College London

Would YOUR school like to get involved? Register at And don’t hang around - the first 100 schools to register will receive an additional launch pack of stickers and posters!

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