Speeding cars, traffic jams, air pollution… these are but a few of the grievances the average city dweller contends with on a daily basis. Below the driving age, children in the West of England do not contribute to these problems, yet they are among the most vulnerable to their consequences.
To allow children to safely make their way to school, without the need to breathe in polluted air and to arrive in a timely manner, EU citizen science project WeCount, together with DETI Inspire, has launched a series of educational resources for KS2 and KS4 pupils. Covering a wide range of subjects, all curriculum linked, children are able to learn about the grand challenges’ cities face in relation to urban travel, and the steps they can take collectively to make their school streets, and cities, safer, healthier and happier. By taking part, schools can gain points towards Modeshift STARS Travel Plan accreditation.
This collaborative project is coordinated by UWE Bristol researchers from the Science Communication Unit. Project manager Dr Laura Fogg-Rogers explains why these resources are so important:
“Road transport is a leading cause of air pollution and climate change within the West of England. For our cities to become net zero carbon emissions by 2030, the date which scientists warn is our deadline to keep global warming below 1.5°C and prevent runaway climate change, drastic changes need to be made to every aspect of life, not least driving. WeCount sensors and associated school resources are one piece of the puzzle in helping citizens to create the changes they wish to see. “
What is WeCount?
WeCount, led by UWE Bristol, is a project that equips households, community centres and schools with low-cost traffic sensors to count cars, bikes, pedestrians and heavy vehicles, as well as the speed of cars. Over time, the citizen scientists can observe trends and use the evidence to lobby for changes on their roads. Among the successes with WeCount data so far, citizens across Europe have convinced their councils to install speed cameras and reduce road speeds, and consider bike lanes and pedestrianisation, spread awareness among residents and contributed to consultations on new housing developments.
How do we get involved?
WeCount is giving away 20 sensors to schools across the West of England. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for one for your school.
KS2 resources are freely available here. KS4 due for release later this month. Email the above email address if you would like to be sent a KS4 pack directly to your school when available.
All resources can be delivered without a sensor, using the data available on the Telraam website.
What’s inside the KS2 pack?
A whole school assembly
Fifteen curriculum-linked worksheets, with instructions and PowerPoint for teachers, covering Geography, IT, Maths, Science, Art and English, Design and Technology. These include tasks to: collect and analyse data; understand different urban travel views; design a bike for the future; vision a healthier, happier school street; and persuade the mayor to consider your proposals.
Lessons can be delivered independently or combined for after-school clubs or themed curriculum, and can be teacher-led or with the support of UWE Bristol or STEM Ambassadors.
What’s inside the KS4 pack?
A whole school assembly
Ten curriculum-linked worksheets, with instructions and PowerPoint for teachers, covering nearly all GCSE subjects – Geography, Computer Science, Maths, Science, Citizenship and English, Design and Technology, History and Engineering. These activities include tasks to: learn about the influence of powerful actors on the proliferation of the car; collect and analyse data; explore the science behind the sensors; debate the role of AI in solving the climate crisis; research local travel issues and viewpoints; design interventions and deliver action projects; creatively write about their experiences.
Lessons can be delivered independently or combined for after-school clubs or themed curriculum, and can be teacher-led or with the support of UWE or STEM Ambassadors.
Sophie Laggan, Research Associate, citizen empowerment and policy change for urban health and sustainability at UWE Bristol.