600 children solving Bristol’s air pollution problems

With additional funding from UWE Bristol, our local team have been running activities with primary schools across the city in 2018.

So far, we have worked with over 600 school children on “Air Pollution Solutions.” You can see the report from our first visit on our blog, and since then we have had the pleasure of visiting Air Balloon Hill Primary and Summerhill Academy in St George, as well as meeting students from Fair Furlong Primary in Withywood, Bannerman Road in Easton, Shield Road Primary in Filton, and Ashton Gate Primary in Ashton at a “Primary Engineers” event hosted on UWE Bristol campus in March 2018.

An exciting part of the activities, alongside getting to do air quality tests, watch for chemical reactions and start planning how to solve air pollution in their neighbourhoods, was a chance for  the children to get involved in city democracy. When there was time available, we invited the pupils to write letters to their politicians to explain what they had discovered and share their solutions for Bristol’s air pollution.

So far, over 150 letters from young people have been sent to their local councillors, both Mayors and the relevant MPs. We have been impressed by the dedication and thoughts of the children, and also delighted that many local politicians have found time to respond to the letters directly. You can read the responses:

Response from WECA Mayor Tim Bowles
Response from Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees
Response from Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy
Response from Cllr Claire Hiscott
Response from Cllr Nicola Beech

We also had an email response from the office of Darren Jones MP, celebrating the project and the work of the children. We have passed on all the responses to the teachers to make sure that the children know their letters were received and read. As one teacher put it “From our point of view, writing and sending the Mayor letters made the learning purposeful and very real for the children…Thank you for such a great day!”

Thanks to Nicky Shale, Emily Prestwood, Laura Fogg Rogers, Corra Boushel and Debbie Lewis for their work on this project. This outreach was funded through the UWE Bristol Faculty of Environment and Technology Outreach and Public Engagement Award 2017.