Clean Air Crew's story
The website was developed by the resident teachers at the Southport Eco Centre, as it was identified there was a gap in educational provision on air quality. Whilst air pollution is a hot topic in the news and high on political agendas, there is no requirement to teach it as part of the National Curriculum, and thus, there weren't many good sources of information tailored towards children.
Therefore, the teachers based at the Eco Centre set about creating a fun, interactive and online resources that could be used by teachers and school children. Including games, activities, resources and lesson plans that link Air Quality across the national curriculum core subjects (including Maths, English, Science, History and Geography), whilst consulting with established networks of schools and teachers, ensured that the website and its content was approved by both teachers and pupils.
Once a school has subscribed, children explore the different sections through the Clean Air Crew HQ including: The Containment Unit - to find out more about different air pollution villains and why it is important we fight them; Science Lab - to find out more about the causes and effects of air pollution and how it affects health and the environment; Garage - to discover how air pollution is monitored and eco friendly ways to travel; Mission Control - to learn how we can make a difference.
Subscription for full access to the Clean Air Crew website was offered to all primary schools in the Liverpool City Region this year, thanks to funding from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Community Environment Fund. This had many advantages as, it is a fully online resource, therefore it could be utilised during COVID-19 for home learning as well as in schools.
The Liverpool City Region (LCR) has several Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA). For example, there are several in Sefton around the vicinity on the Docks, and all of Liverpool is classed as an AQMA. This coupled with the fact that the LCR has higher than average rates of respiratory disease (including childhood asthma) means it is vital that children are educated on what air pollution is, what causes it, how it affects the environment they live in and their health and how they can avoid exposure to or reduce air pollution levels in their local area.
Teachers can access lesson plans that link air quality to the National curriculum, meaning Air Quality could be taught without going off topic by linking it to core subjects such as Maths, Geography, Science and History.
Useful learnings from Clean Air Crew
The resident teachers at the Southport Eco Centre discovered that despite the growing impact air pollution was having on our health and environment, most children had little knowledge about air quality issues. This was mainly because it does not need to be taught as part of the National Curriculum (thus there were little resources aimed towards children on the matter).
Using the network of schools, teachers and children that the Southport Eco Centre have built up over the years, the resident teachers consulted with them to make a fun and interactive website that was aimed towards school children that teaches them about air quality, what it is, how it is caused, how it is monitored, how it affects health and environment and what we can do to make a difference. The children and teachers provided constant feedback on what worked and what didn’t, and the Eco Centre teachers adapted the site on their advice.
Challenges included building the website in-house, learning as we go. Also, as the Eco Centre is a self-sustained service, funding was also an issue along the way, ensuring that staff had the time to develop the site whilst also doing the day job.
The Clean Air Crew website was a lot of work but totally worth it as it is a well used site. It was important to liaise with and continue communicating with schools when developing the content, to ensure children find learning fun and interesting.
Clean Air Crew's metrics
Number of hits on the website.
Number of resources, lesson plans downloaded.
Number of schools taking part in targeted campaigns promoted on the website.
Green league points awarded to schools.