A project by the St Francis Science Club.

In the Summer Term a group of Fourth Form pupils and Mrs Alcantara, one of Downside’s excellent Biology teachers, formed the St Francis Science Club. Their goal was to use STEM skills to assist the School and its leadership team in making Downside more sustainable and reduce its carbon footprint. They plan to use new technologies to assist them in their investigative work and help senior leadership within the School make more informed decisions. To help them, the Club engaged the School’s on-site business partner, ScienceScope, to bring their expertise and new IoT (Internet of Things) sensing technology to the investigations.

The Club’s first investigation was to study temperatures over the period of a week in eight classrooms across the School to assess user comfort levels and potential energy usage improvements. The pupils worked with Mrs Alcantara and ScienceScope on the location for each sensor to maximise the accuracy of the results and also set up a QR-code user feedback survey in the form of a poster in each room.

At the end of each lesson during testing week the users of the classrooms completed a short two-question survey to feed back their comfort during the lesson. The Club collected the temperature and user feedback data using ScienceScope technology, and then analysed the results to try to understand any problem areas for classroom comfort along with energy saving/wastage opportunities. The pupils also interviewed the School’s Head of Estates to help give them an understanding of the how the heating system works in different areas of the School.

Finally, the pupils presented their findings to Mr Randall, the Deputy Head, which included the identification of an area of heat wastage in a void above one of the science classrooms. Insulation will now be put in place to reduce this.

The Club also asked Mr Randall for his thoughts on how the School could improve its carbon footprint. Mr Randall provided some helpful insights into some of the School’s top-level strategy to reaching net zero, and suggested that they next test temperatures and comfort levels in the Boarding Houses. The Club will start this phase of their work at the start of their next academic year to further help Downside make further changes for a more sustainable future.