WELLINGTON, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Pupils at New Zealand's Central Otago primary school are helping air quality scientists learn more about pollution in their town in a four-month project that will track where smoke comes from and where it goes over winter.
"We need a better understanding of where and when the emissions occur which we think the school children can help us with," The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) air quality scientist Ian Longley said in a statement.
Alexandra, where the project takes place, is known as one of New Zealand's most polluted towns and regularly exceeds the National Standard for air quality.
NIWA has developed a low-cost sensor known as an ODIN or Outdoor Dust Information Node. ODINs are usually fixed to power poles and enable communities to observe, understand and ultimately control their local air quality in a much more direct way than previously possible, Longley said.
By the end of winter, NIWA plans to have installed up to 200 ODINs across Alexandra. The ODINs transmit air quality data in real time enabling researchers to build up a picture of how it varies from day to day and place to place, he said.
An adapted version of the ODIN will also be assembled at school and taken home by the pupils for a week at a time to provide a snapshot of what's going on with smoke inside their own homes.
"This is also a chance for the children to understand where data comes from in a way that is real and personal to them," the scientist said, adding the Alexandra school pupils are acting as a test group helping the scientists understand how citizens can become directly involved in air quality science with the aim of extending the program into the wider community next year.
NIWA also worked in partnership with the University of Montana in the United States to conduct further trials in Idaho.