Guest blog presented by: Jeremy Mattsson
Fifth grade students at Cannon School (Concord, NC) partnered with Clean Air Carolina at the start of 2017 to gather data in support of a middle school service learning project. Through Cannon’s service learning program, students explore an area in need, gather research to understand the need, and then look to apply their understanding toward action and change. This year’s environmental group chose to explore their school’s air quality and work to reduce on campus PM 2.5 emissions in the bus circle and car rider line.
Students hypothesized that air quality in the afternoon would be affected by idling buses and cars. Through the use of Air Beam technology, students used a fixed monitor to system to collect data on car line idling and a mobile unit to collect data on the bus circle. Over the course of three weeks, Cannon fifth graders analyzed the data collected on the aircasting.org website and were able discover air quality trends and address their hypothesis. Though the readings were not as high as predicted, students met with bus drivers to share their data and encourage them to start their buses closer to the three o’clock dismissal time. Students also took to the car line in the afternoon to share their research results, thank those cars that were not idling, and encourage those that were to turn their engines off.
Overall, the project was a huge success as students were able to see the benefit of data collection and analysis, as well as the benefits of connecting their research to something actionable. Clean Air Carolina was very supportive in our endeavor and Cannon School hopes to continue to build this relationship as they strive to educate and promote young citizen scientists.