James Dyson Foundation launches teacher’s guide to educate kids on air pollution

Engineering Solutions: Air Pollution is informed by the company’s work in the sector, and is intended to complement existing science, design and technology curriculums.

The James Dyson Foundation has developed a new education resource which aims to help children understand and combat air pollution.

Engineering Solutions: Air Pollution is a teacher’s guide, informed by the work Dyson already does in the sector – particularly with its Pure Cool purifying range of products.

“Problem-led design solutions”

The pack contains five lesson plans, videos and posters. The curriculum has been designed to complement learning in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4, with two age-appropriate versions for younger and older kids.

The narrative of the lessons has students “working like engineers”, according to Dyson, by offering up ways to work towards “problem-led design solutions”.

First, kids learn about the problem of air pollution and then they act on it. This action stage includes evaluating existing solutions to air pollution, and then designing and prototyping their own solution to the issue.

“Air pollution is a worldwide issue”

All of the teaching involved in the teacher’s pack is informed by the air science work Dyson conducts for its products. According to the company, this knowledge is the sum of three decades’ worth of research.

Giving children this knowledge is particularly pertinent, the company continues, because of the widespread impact that air pollution has on children around the world. It quotes a World Health Organisation study, which found that 93% of the world’s children under 15 – around 1.8 billion in total – breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health at risk every day.

It isn’t the first time Dyson technology has been used to tackle the issue as it pertains to children. In 2019, researchers at Kings College London used a specialised backpack containing a Dyson air quality sensor to monitor the air quality experiences by 250 children on their school runs. It found kids were exposed to harmful pollutants often, including nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5, a kind of particulate matter in the air.

“Air pollution is a worldwide issue,” explains Dyson Foundation global head Lydia Beaton. “By hearing how Dyson engineers approached the problem students will understand how science and engineering can tackle air pollution and start to apply this knowledge in their own design solutions.”

“We need more engineers”

The news of Dyson’s latest education resource comes as the brand continues to highlight a global shortfall of engineers. According to Dyson research, the UK will need 186,000 engineers annually through to 2024.

“Failing to address this problem is expected to cost the UK economy alone £27 billion every year. Put simply, we need more engineers,” says Beaton.

The intention behind Engineering Solutions: Air Pollution, and other Dyson initiatives like the challenge cards developed during last year’s lockdown, aim to showcase careers in design and engineering as relevant and attractive for kids.

To download the pack, or learn more, head to the Dyson Foundation website.

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