Schools are facing many challenges this fall, including minimizing risks to students and staff from Covid-19 and wildfire smoke exposure. Air purifiers are one tool that can help.
Researchers from the UC Davis Energy and Efficiency Institute (EEI) partnered with science teachers at Rio Tierra Junior High School in Sacramento to teach a two-day lesson on air quality and build 30 portable air cleaners with approximately 150 8th grade students. The portable air cleaners will be distributed to every classroom on campus.
Knowledge to action
“It is really important to empower students and help them understand indoor and outdoor pollution sources, and how to measure and improve indoor air quality,” explained UC Davis researcher and project lead Theresa Pistochini. The lesson culminated with groups of 4-5 students constructing do-it-yourself (DIY) portable air cleaners using a Corsi-Rosenthal cube design, which uses a box fan and four filters with a MERV 13 rating. The materials for each air cleaner cost $75. Each air cleaner is expected to provide about the same amount of air cleaning effectiveness as small commercially available portable air cleaners that cost about $200.
Science teachers Amber Mitchell and Kathryn Graf planned the visit with UC Davis researchers Theresa Pistochini and Robert McMurry. “I love having outside speakers come in. Air quality is such a relevant topic that we are able to teach the kids about,” Mitchell said. “We are always trying to relate science to current events and student’s lives. There’s not much more relatable right now than making air purifiers to help our school.”