By Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Students in northern Utah are getting a chance to build air quality monitors out of toy building blocks to help the University of Utah get readings from the schools.

These students are sometimes kept indoors for recess because of poor air quality, and this program allows them to learn more about the issue, KSL-TV reported ( ).

“(It furthers) our knowledge of what can be done about air pollution, especially because ours is so bad,” said Alexandra Feliz, a junior at the school.

“The pollution downtown is very, very bad,” said Mason Henrie, a senior at East High School. “You can just feel it with heavy breathing.”

University of Utah chemical engineering professors Kerry Kelly and Tony Butterfield intend to bring the lesson to 50 Salt Lake Valley schools. “I think it can help you take a little bit more ownership of what’s going on in your school, what’s going on around your school,” Kelly said.

Devices are made of blocks, a computer board and other elements.

“They basically have a light source,” Butterfield said. “We give them polluted air basically with mist, and they detect how much particulate matter is in the air.”

Research-grade monitors with more accuracy will also be left at the schools.

“If we have sensors in multiple schools throughout the valley, we can know if it’s a red burn day in Salt Lake, what does that mean for the people in Sandy? We can also get a better idea of where our poor quality is coming from,” Butterfield said.

Data will eventually go onto a website. “We end up with a real-time air-quality map of the valley,” Butterfield said.

Junior Anna Smart said sensors can help “make sure that you stay safe when you’re going outside, to make sure that the air is good for whatever activity you are doing.”


Information from: KSL-TV,

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