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UK schools to help monitor classroom air quality in massive citizen science project

Posted on 24 April 2023

Schools across the country are being asked to take part in a huge citizen science project to help monitor and evaluate the quality of the air in our classrooms.

It is hoped more than 1,500 schools will sign up

It is hoped more than 1,500 schools will sign up to SAMHE (Schools’ Air quality Monitoring for Health and Education) and help provide important data to scientists studying the quality of classroom air. 

It is expected to be the biggest study of air quality in schools anywhere in the world.


SAMHE schools will get 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.

SAMHE has been designed with and for schools. 20 ‘Co-Design Schools’ worked with the team to design the project and 120 ‘Pioneer Schools’ helped test and refine a beta version of the Web App. 

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.

Department for Education

The project is being led by the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York,  Imperial College London, and the University of Cambridge.

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. 

SAMHE enables pupils to interact with real world data about their immediate environment, gives them agency to take informed action and offers an opportunity to collaborate with scientists and contribute to important research. 

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

Fun and engaging

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

“The SAMHE monitor and app have provided our Y4/5 science group with a wealth of data to interrogate and analyse. The children’s enthusiasm has been infectious and there is tangible excitement at being able to access the data in real time at home,” said Elangeni School, part of SAMHE Pioneer Schools programme.

Further information:

Would your school like to get involved? Register at The first 100 schools to register will receive an additional launch pack of stickers and posters.

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