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

'Digital in Manufacturing and Making' event at #LeedsDigi18

Contributing to this Digital in Manufacturing event was a great start to the Leeds Digital Festival for us this week.

Thanks to Matthew Skelton for inviting us along, to join this ever growing digital community that will meet again in October for the Assembly Conference in Leeds.

We shared ideas with others from the manufacturing, making, and software sectors with a focus around how digital technologies and approaches to shape the future of manufacturing.

For us, our thoughts were presented towards bridging the digital skills divide in the city, and you can view the slide sets from each session below:

Look out for more details about the Assembly Conference in Leeds on 2nd October.

Read more:

Open Forum and Talks: “Digital in manufacturing and making — what’s coming next? via Medium - a great blogpost about this event from Jovile Bart

Manufacturers are urged to embrace digital via Yorkshire Post, 17.04.18

Community Events in Wigan & Leeds: Inspire an Engineer

Young Inventors Tackle Plastic Pollution

'Let it Glow'

Amazing to be collaborating with Playful Leeds to support their programme of Young Inventors at #PlayLabLeeds.

We used the BBC Blue Planet show as the focus for the impact that humans are having on the world’s oceans.


The children designed and built their own bioluminescent sea creatures to share their powerful messages about eradicating plastic pollution and helping to make the world a better place.

E-textile projects were at the heart of the day as the group used a STEAM approach, to understand and develop their own insights about environmental issues, and share their message with others.

student sharing her completed etextile project

Young Inventors used the wonders of wearable technology to:

Collaborate and build data driven artworks.
  • With paper, textiles and digital elements (Codebugs, LED strips and Glowbugs)
  • Theme - under the ocean scene
  • Building bioluminescent animals and fish
  • Creatures illuminated dependant on the code used to drive the lights
Explore how we sense the environment around us.
  • Collecting environmental data
  • Visualising the data to give context and understanding
  • Starting to explore ideas of how bigger and open data are used to improve lives on a local and global level
Connect the STEAM disciplines through visual art.
  • Bioluminescence
  • Wearable Tech
  • Engineering new solutions
  • Bigger Data



    'Let it Glow' is the latest activity through our Internet of Curious Things programme.

IWD2018: Inventions of the Future with Woman@ASML

On International Women's Day we partnered with The Ada Show again to launch a new 'Inventions of the Future' project.

This time the challenge centred around Ada Lovelace conceptualising a flying machine in 1828.

Now it was the turn of staff at ASML in Eindhoven to consider environmental change using the power of flight. Envirosense was used to connect the kites to the surrounding environment and become data collection nodes through flight.

team of 5 women adding wearable tech and sensors to a kite

Over the day, the Women@ASML community led teams of staff to design, build and test their own connected kites.

group of adults and children testing 2 kites with environment sensors attached outdoors

And of course to lead the first test flights during the afternoon!