Published: 05 November 2021

Guildford Living Lab kicks-off Heat-Cool STEM initiative in London school

Researchers at the Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) and Guildford Living Lab (GLL) have been working with children at Henry Fawcett Primary School in London to explore how energy heats and cools our planet - the first step in a new 'Heat-Cool' education initiative.



The Heat-Cool initiative

Students using the Heat-Cool equipment

Climate change leads to higher temperatures and longer, more severe, and more frequent heat waves which adversely affect our environment, health and quality of life.  Cities such as London are experiencing hotter and drier summers, resulting in the urban heat island (UHI) effect, which can cause them to be up to 10°C warmer than neighbouring rural areas. 

The Heat-Cool initiative aims to educate children on how energy heats and cools our planet, how it affects us, and what we can do about it. Led by Professor Prashant Kumar and his GCARE team, the initiative was kicked off with a project at Henry Fawcett Primary School in Lambeth, south London, in October. The aim was to spark young children's curiosity in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by helping them to understand topics such as common local heat sources, UHI and climate change impacts, the effects of air pollution, and how we can cool our environment through measures such as planting trees.

Open trial of the Heat-Cool initiative

Heat-cool equipment showing the school building

The Heat-Cool initiative was first trialled at a Car Free Day organised by GCARE team members in Guildford town centre on 26 September 2021.

During the day, the team spoke with local residents about opportunities to reduce their individual contribution and exposure to air pollution, and also the link between air pollution and the climate crisis. Adults and children of all ages took part and enjoyed engaging in science in a playful manner. The GCARE team also filmed a short video involving community members, local stakeholders, researchers and other members of the Guildford Living Lab, titled ‘Let’s Work Together.’ Look out for the video on the Guildford Living Lab site and Twitter page.

GCARE visit Henry Fawcett Primary School

On 14 and 20 October, researchers from GCARE visited Henry Fawcett Primary School where they presented interactive resources and engaged with Year 5 students in practical sessions on the basics of heat and energy in relation to climate change.

GCARE’s researchers have helped our students to learn about impacts and potential responses to climate change.

Deputy Head of the school, Rachel Harrison

Deputy Head of the school, Rachel Harrison, said of the activities: “The Heat-Cool initiative has been a wonderful way to engage our pupils in the science behind climate change in an accessible and memorable way. The simple quiz and interactive practical sessions based on thermal images taken themselves with FLIR infrared cameras have really inspired the children. GCARE’s researchers have helped our students to learn about impacts and potential responses to climate change. The children have been excited and have thoroughly enjoyed learning through these activities.”

Professor Prashant Kumar, Director of GCARE, commented: “Heat-Cool is an exciting new STEM-related initiative. It is important for primary and secondary school children to learn about the future of our planet, for our local environments, and for the health and wellbeing of future generations. We would like to thank staff and students at Henry Fawcett Primary School to be the first Heat-Cool school by taking part so that the children can also take responsibility for looking after our planet.”

Funding and support

Heat-Cool is supported by the Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA) under the Climate Change and Risk Education grants and various other ongoing grants. A number of GCARE researchers have volunteered to make this initiative possible.

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