Citizen Science enrichment by Noah Arazi (Year 9)

At the start of the summer term, I was chosen to take part in the Citizen Science enrichment. During the first enrichment, we were introduced to Mr Hyman from Transport for London (TFL), as well as other representatives from ESRI, IRIS and the Geographical association. They all gave us a brief understanding of their roles and spoke to us about air quality. Once we had become familiar with the subject of air quality, Mr Hyman presented a project to us which we would all be partaking in. The aim of the project was to research air quality in our local area using the following methods:

Sticky tape peels: This involved placing sellotape onto a tree trunk for ten seconds and then removing it to find out how much particulate cover was found on the tape. We then looked at the pieces of tape underneath a microscope to examine further. The more particulate cover on the sellotape, the more pollutants present.

Lichen guides: There are two different types of lichen.  Nitrogen loving or Nitrogen hating lichen. Nitrogen loving lichens are found in highly polluted areas while Nitrogen hating lichens are found in areas with clean air. We had a lichen guide which told us how to identify the different types of lichen through shaping, colour etc.

Pollution sensor: We were very fortunate to be able to borrow a pollution sensor from IRIS that had been loaned to the Eden project. This high-tech piece of equipment gave us accurate readings of the concentration of pollutants in the air. This data could then be uploaded onto a computer and the results demonstrated in graph form.

A few lessons into the enrichment, we were told that we would be presenting our results at the Science Museum in London towards the end of the term. This encouraged us all to put 100% effort into our projects as we were very excited about this opportunity. The class was split into groups and were asked to come up with a question to investigate.  My group’s question was, “Is the air quality better outside or inside our school?”  We had to choose two methods to investigate our question.  My group chose the pollution sensor and sticky tape peels.

The next few lessons involved us investigating our question. However, many of us faced challenges when collecting data e.g. the absence of trees in the school field meant that my group could not find a tree to stick the tape on to. To resolve this issue, we placed the tape onto wooden fences or other objects which particulates could easily be attracted to instead. Collecting data was very enjoyable and many of us found some surprising and unexpected results.

Once we had collected our data, we used a computer programme called “Power BI” to record our results and create graphs. This way, we could easily distinguish any high or low readings and interpret our findings with ease. Over the next few lessons, we created power point slides to present to distinguished guests at the Science Museum.

The day before we broke up from school, we all travelled to the Science Museum by train.  When we arrived, we went in the staff entrance of the museum rather than the main entrance, where we waited to be called in to the lecture theatre to present.  We sat and waited with trepidation as we met the people we would be presenting to.  After what felt like a long time, we were shown into the lecture theatre.  As we opened the doors to the theatre, we all gasped as it was a huge auditorium and the reality of what we were about to do sunk in!

We had a few minutes to set up our power point presentations.  Prestigious guests started to enter the lecture hall and with each guest that entered, we became increasingly nervous.

Each group stood up in turn to present their results.  My group went first.  Initially, I was extremely nervous to lecture in front of so many people.  However, the nerves soon turned into enjoyment as we picked up momentum and demonstrated our knowledge on the subjects we were presenting.  Some of the guests and parents had the opportunity to ask us questions about our project.  This was an excellent time to show off our skills in the subject area and use our lateral thinking abilities as some of the questions were rather challenging.

The guests and the teachers were all very proud of the work we had done.

Citizen Science enrichment, was an incredible experience for all of us and I will certainly never forget it.  Thank you TFL and Yavneh for giving us this opportunity.

My experiences during the citizen science enrichment by Joshua Gross Year 8

When I started the enrichment for the summer term, I was unsure what I’d find. Once we got started though, I found myself very much in my talent area. We were working with software’s like PowerBI, a software designed to allow graphs from excel, to look more like professional graphs you’d find in important meetings. We used the air quality sensor, which measured the statistic numbers of pollutants in the air, counting: Sulphur dioxide, Carbon monoxide and a few others. Sulphur dioxide was the one we went off of most though, as it gave the most accurate result.

We then took the data from the sensor and put it on the computer, where we then imported it to excel to do some proof-checking, followed by then porting it to PowerBI in table format, which it could read. It then turned it into a graph. We changed the graph to look how we wanted, before sending it off to PowerPoint to be put into our presentations.

We wrote presentations and scripts to present to an important audience in the freshly redone presentation hall in the Science Museum. It was fantastic. They all appeared so interested in what we had to say until we reached the literal point of after the presentations they came to us and asked what we thought they should do with the transport as it is now to change it to be better for us. We as a group recommended they cut down petrol use, start using more electric-powered vehicles and stop idling cars.

One of the other things we were able to measure, which is a skill I have hung onto from this, was measuring lichen (pronounced liken) off of the sides of trees, lamps, poles and even Yavneh itself! Using that, you can tell how much nitrogen is in the air around you, ranging: none, some or loads. The lichen can be nitrogen loving, neutral or nitrogen sensitive. We used that to get a basic idea of air quality while we were waiting for the sensor.

I spent hours at home working on this, determined to make the presentation look good for when we finally gave it. Running software, animating lines, writing lines, the list went on, and so did I. I loved the work I was doing on this; it was great and finally encouraged me to work in a team unlike one I would usually work in, consisting of myself, another year 8 and a year 7! A team I wouldn’t find myself working in often, but we all worked together, got on and slowly managed to write a full presentation with script. We then presented them in the hall, and then were asked write something that shared our thoughts on the summer term enrichment. These are my thoughts and everything alike for the summer enrichment citizen science. If I have one thing to suggest to the teachers, do it again.