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Citizen engagement, DIY, Environmental sustainability, Science, Technology

(Indoor) Air quality workshop and science cafe

Sleeves rolled up, hand-on making of a DIY humidity & temperature sensor... not without difficulties

Sleeves rolled up, hand-on making of a DIY humidity & temperature sensor… not without difficulties

After a long day at work what better way to unwind than having some DIY science fun?

Our workshop/science café format aims to create a space to engage hands on with an DIY tool or technique while also engaging in a relaxed discussion around it – it’s meaning and the data it produces as well as the bigger picture – in this case, issues and concerns regarding air quality both indoors and outdoors. This is part of an initiative in Doing It Together Science, a pan-European project that aims to build institutional and policy foundations for a sustained deep public engagement in science and technology in Europe [more here].


To get into the DIY mood, we began our workshop/science cafe on indoor air quality with a game: ‘human circuit‘. One happy DIYer selected the different components (in their human form) to make up the circuit we were about to build: the Arduino, the DHT22 sensor, the battery, and the LED display.


Playing human circuit with the part of our DIY sensor

Playing human circuit with the part of our DIY sensor


Our hands-on session enabled those who were new to DIY electronics to follow a step-by-step guide projected on a screen, while the tech-savvy could go ahead and dig right in. After mixed results and having built semi-operational devices, we managed to ‘peel’ oourselves off from the ‘making’ area to begin our discussion around air quality.

With a warm drink in hand we sat on comfy sofas with special guests Clive Shrubsole and Venus Bailey to converse about our concerns on both indoor air quality and environmental air pollution: what constitutes the ‘quality’ of ‘air quality’, indoor issues of humidity, mold (and their love for temperature differences), air pollution from human-and environmental-sources, apps and tools for pollution monitoring including CleanSpace, cycling masks, and NO2 diffusion tubes from Mapping for Change for community-led monitoring. We also spoke about the power of data, the issues in understanding it, and what locks policy makers into looking at only certain types. Clive has written two articles on related topics: the invisible scale of Climate Change and the need for a new clean air revolution.

The technology star of the evening was Panos Tigas, who helped guide us and troubleshoot some of the Arduino and circuit issues we encountered.


Paris Selinas captured our conversation topics:

Picto-notes from our Science Cafe on Air quality - thanks Paris!

Picto-notes from our Science Cafe on Air quality – thanks Paris!

A few useful links shared by Clive Shrubsole:

The London Air Quality Network (where the legally required monitoring is done). You can see /download data from the monitors, going back a long time.


Plume App:


CleanSpace App: However, if you want to get a CO tag for free, you need to sign-up here:

Masks: there are many, but as people said last night the difficulty is being able to breathe with them on. After talking to a number of cyclists, this unique piece of technology seems to be popular and effective? They are relatively expensive, but are meant to last a year. Two colleagues at UCL are going to try them over the next few months’ so I might be able to give some feedback later. [Clive, we’ll come back to this!]

Clean Air London: An organisation actively pushing for clean air in London.

HOBO data loggers:

The finished device: DIY humidity & temperature sensor

The finished device: DIY humidity & temperature sensor


One thought on “(Indoor) Air quality workshop and science cafe

  1. What a fantastic night, thanks to everyone involved and for kindly inviting me..Got a real buzz out of this event..give me more!

    Posted by clive | December 7, 2016, 07:15

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