On last September 26, the OŠ Spodnja Šiška elementary school in Ljubljana has received a visit of researchers as a part of CitieS-Health H2020 project and INSA/SAZU bilateral exchange program. The aim of this initiative was to generate awareness among the students about their immediate environment and also to ignite in their minds an appreciation of the bounty of natural beauty in Slovenia.
The full duplex interaction, carried out in Slovene and English, began with a small presentation by Dr. Charu Khosla Gupta and Dr. Arijit Chowdhuri, environmental scientists and faculty at University of Delhi(India). The interaction with school children was moderated by Dr. David Kocman from Jožef Stefan Institute (Ljubljana) in the presence of school teachers and the principal.
The pupils were made aware of the varying parameters that affected environment both temporally as well as spatially. Students were also exposed to some of the not so obvious factors affecting environmental aspects included factors like number of vehicles, population, size of country, climate, location etc.
A specific comparison of two capital cities of Ljubljana and New Delhi was carried out vis-à-vis population, density and number of vehicles. Post comparison the students appreciated how lucky they were to live in a clean city with lots of greenery all around. New Delhi’s bane of high pollution levels owing to a large number of vehicles on the road, high population density, lack of efficient public transport system, burning of crop residues, habitat destruction, deforestation, industrialization, construction and demolition activities to name a few was quickly understood by the students. The scientists emphasized that this crisis has cropped up as timely measurements were not taken to conserve the environment. The students were motivated and encouraged to take care of their environment as the sustainability of humans is directly proportional to the environment and also to the health of the city. It was heartening to notice that students and teachers listened to the talk attentively and with great interest. Also their concern for their country and environment was very evident.
Later, the students and the teachers were given a hands-on experience of measuring the Particulate Matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10) using a true LASER particle counter (Dylos 1700, USA). Also the students were given an idea of real-time measurement of pollutants by monitoring trace levels of CO2/CO, VOC’s, natural gas and alcohol in their vicinity using wearable sensors brought from India. The partially sensitive pollutant sensors were configured in the form of an electronic-nose (E-Nose) mimicking olfactory response like a human nose. The E-Nose could sequentially measure 04 (four) different pollutant gases and measured data could be recorded on a cellphone via an Arduino® microcontroller based bluetooth® interface. The students were very excited to detect, measure and record pollutant gas concentrations on the cellphones. They also became aware about the need for proactive action whence elevated levels of pollutants could be detected.
The main aim of this exercise was to generate awareness about conservation of environment and also to suggest ways and means of mitigation of current environment problems. Additionally, the students and teachers learnt to undertake some basic research and hence enjoyed being a part of it. Students were happy to learn about many new facts about India and at the same time enjoyed measuring and discussing different environmental parameters.