Something in the Air?
Something in the Air? engaged members of the public in the West Yorkshire town of Sowerby Bridge with research and issues around air quality and health, empowering them to make a response.
Professor Martie Van Tongeren and academics from the University of Manchester were involved in webinars and a Meet the Prof event in a local primary school. They also participated in a film documenting the project.
The library service held four Zoom webinars, one with an author and three with academics from the University of Manchester. They also loaned two types of air quality monitor (one for indoor and the other for outdoor use) and engaged on a one-to-one basis with borrowers, to offer help and discuss findings. Borrowers’ findings formed part of a display in Sowerby Bridge Library.
A Year 6 class at Bolton Brow Primary Academy learnt about air quality in their curriculum and experimented with monitors. Children from schools across the town were encouraged to complete an air quality activity booklet during the summer holidays. A finale event was held at the library, where a film about the project was shown with refreshments, networking and informal discussion around participation in the project.
Members of the public were exposed to current research and key questions on the issue of air quality, leading many to think more deeply and consider changes they could make. The local primary school also benefited from having a visit from a real-life professor, to answer the children’s questions and open their minds to new perspectives. They recognised the added value the project brought to the children’s learning experience and are keen to engage with the library service again.
This project has changed perceptions of the library service and raised its profile within the Council. One councillor commented that the project film will support the campaign for improved air quality in the town. The local primary school children gave a presentation about the low air quality in their playground to the local MP and achieved funding for a green screen to improve it. A version of the Something in the Air? project will move to the town of Hebden Bridge in 2022.
Members of the project team gained valuable experience in public engagement and university partners were able to contribute to a grassroots project in their field of study and contribute to a local community.