Air Quality Monitoring

Air Quality Monitoring

About this activity

Suitable for Key Stage 3. Supports the Geography / Science National Curriculum 

Improving the quality of the air that children breathe around their school is one of the main benefits of travelling actively.  Walking, scooting, cycling and parking & striding not only helps improves air quality around schools for the community, it also exposes children to less air pollution compared to being in a car. 

Citizen science is a fun and interesting way of getting people involved in understanding and tackling environmental issues. By collecting scientific data we can better understand issues such as air pollution.

This Air Quality Monitoring activity is a great way to engage your Year 7 and 8 students in helping improve air quality around your school. The resources include a range of methods for students to monitor air quality and record their results, including observing soot build-up, lichen and tar-spots.  This resource outlines three scientific investigations you can undertake with your students on the school grounds, and on the streets outside your school, to assess air quality and levels of pollutants.

The key objective is for students to use three different scientific investigations to make an assessment of the air quality around your school.

Students should consider:

•Different locations to investigate

•What locations are like at different times of day

•Number of pollution sources

•If vehicles spend time idling near to their chosen locations

This STARS activity could be aligned with an anti-idling campaign or with an outdoor classroom day.


Activity steps

Get ready
Consult the Teacher notes in the resource links below, and use the student resources and results template.
Plan your action
Set up a team or work with your STARS Challenge Leaders (KS3) or Junior Travel Ambassadors (KS2) or School Travel Working Group and decide what Air Quality monitoring methods to use and when to carry out the monitoring.
Shout about it
Work with students to promote the activity they will be doing to the wider school community to help build interest and anticipation for the results when they are available; e.g. write an article for the School Newsletter, post on the schools’ social media
On the day
Use the day of the monitoring to raise awareness among your school community and beyond. Have fun and don’t forget to take photos!
Check for success
How did your pupils find the day? What key messages did they take away?
Follow up
Promote the Air Quality monitoring results to the wider school community. Students can make an Active Travel Zone map to make it easier for students, parents / carers, staff and visitors to see how to walk, ride and wheel to school


  • Curriculum

This activity counts towards:

  • Curriculum

How it helps

  • Supports the Geography and Science Curriculum
  • Encourages health and well-being
  • Encourage greater engagement in air quality


Useful links, templates and case studies to support this activity