Sharing air quality data. A rose by any other name?

Summer workshops do seem to have taken an 'English Country Garden' theme as we've continue to partner with Junction Arts to grow their digital rose garden for the This Girl Codes programme!

This latest tinkering forms part of plans with another project looking to share air quality data from community projects.

paper flowers illuminated using air quality data

Previous STEAM activities blending digital making with papercraft have been a great introduction to data visualisation possibilities, so we thought we'd explore with these latest data streams.

We've been working with Leeds University to develop resources for upcoming community projects, and supporting an understanding of the science behind air quality has been one of our priorities.

more pink paper flowers

A couple of examples below of questions we wanted to add into the activities with resources to stimulate more conversations and consider changes:

  • What are the variables that will affect the quality of air at any one time?
  • How quickly can changes happen and what can the range of readings be like over a period of time?
  • Can (and how can) changes in behaviour impact on the quality of local air?

paper flower craft tools including wires, paper and tape

Changes in the LEDs added to this project are subtle and act as a comparison to other digital making activities using the first Envirosense board.

Look out for new workshops and project building challenges as we launch more #SenseAndSenseAirBility activities.

close up of pink paper flowers

The beauty of lotus flowers to explain the science behind air quality issues

What's new?

We've been working on new projects linked to air quality with The Internet of Curious Things.

At the recent Art of Tinkering event, during Leeds Digital Festival, we created a 'Digital Peony' project and started to look at embedding smart sensors into paper craft activities. Those visualisations took temperature, humidity and light data from the workshop space and, using the Envirosense add-on with Codebug, illuminated the paper flowers with strings of LEDs.

collage of paper lotus flowers with LEDs added to visualise environmental data

Why flowers?

Now we’ve taken inspiration from the Japanese lotus flower, known for it’s ability to rise up from a bed of mud each morning and emerge as a flawless and beautiful bloom, to develop latest activities to help everyone understand the science behind air quality.

What's the connection with air quality?

Lotus flowers are said to be resistant to pollution and have a water-purifying function, with symbolism different across numerous cultures where it plays a role.

We’ve used them to help share messages about air quality, using their beauty to make issues visible to everyone as a floral and visual spectacle.

Creative Problem Solving

Here's how:

1. Paper Flower Craft

collage showing napkin origami to create lotus flowers

2. Embedding Envirosense and LEDs

lotus flowers with sensors and leds