FRESH Air: Hands-On STEM, Investigating Air Quality and Climate Impact in NYC

June 24-27, 2024 Rose Hill

In this distinctive summer STEM program, led by Fordham Physics professor Stephen Holler, students participate in FRESH Air, a Fordham-based citizen science outreach project. During this course, students gain a deep understanding of the connections between climate change, air quality, and health impacts while working with sensors that measure pollution in the air around NYC. As part of this educational experience, students actively engage in constructing sensor platforms, fostering hands-on skills and knowledge that empower them to proactively address environmental concerns.

The goals of this program are for students to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of air quality, its effects on health, and its impact on the community.
  • Explore the causes of air pollution and its sources, particularly in their neighborhoods.
  • Gain practical experience in building and operating air quality sensor platforms.
  • Enhance their knowledge of STEM principles, including microcontrollers and data analysis.
  • Promote environmental awareness and a culture of inquiry within their communities.

Skills/Learning Outcomes

  • Students will actively engage in hands-on STEM activities aimed at understanding the principles of air quality monitoring, data collection, and analysis. This program allows students to bridge the gap between theory and practice.

  • Participants will have the opportunity to build sensor platforms. This hands-on approach will demystify the inner workings of air quality sensors, providing students with knowledge in microcontrollers, programming, and data analysis using Arduino-based kits.

  • Students will take their sensors around the campus and on field excursions to gain insights into the effects of external factors, such as pollution exposure and sources of indoor particulate matter, on air quality.

  • Students will learn about the immediate impact of poor air quality, particularly in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan communities, which are disproportionately affected by pollution. The program seeks to raise awareness of climate change and its connection to air quality, empowering students to effect positive change in their communities.

Overall Takeaways

Participating in the FRESH Air Program offers high school students several compelling benefits that can significantly enhance their college applications:

  • STEM Skills and Knowledge: The program equips students with practical skills in microcontroller programming, data analysis, and environmental science. This STEM-focused learning not only enhances their academic profile but also positions them as candidates who are well-prepared for college-level coursework.
  • Interdisciplinary Learning: FRESH Air integrates knowledge from multiple disciplines, connecting science with environmental studies, community health, and social justice. This interdisciplinary approach reflects a student's ability to bridge gaps between different areas of study and think holistically.
  • Environmental Awareness: The program's focus on climate change, air quality, and environmental impacts showcases a student's awareness of and concern for pressing global issues. Colleges value applicants who demonstrate an understanding of and passion for sustainability.

Course Schedule

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4
  • Introduction to climate change and its impacts
  • Sensor technology: microcontrollers, particle counters
  • Pressure, temperature, humidity
  • Data logging
  • Climate Change and Health
  • Particulate Matter: sources, detection, distribution
  • Sensor Build: electronics, programming, assembly, and testing
  • Physiological Effects
  • Project FRESH Air
  • PurpleAir
  • Measurements: campus and neighborhood
  • Air Quality: AQI, indoor and outdoor
  • Climate Futures
  • Sensor Analysis: data ploQng, data analysis,
    and interpretation
  • Sensor comparisons
  • Wrap up

Course Details

FRESH Air: Hands-On STEM, Investigating Air Quality and Climate Impact in NYC
June 24-27, 2024, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Rose Hill Campus
Instructor: Stephen Holler

Course Number: SULA 0100 RP4
CRN: 15862

This non-credit course is open to high school students only.


Residential: $1,650.00
Tuition for the residential program includes the course, course materials, housing, meals, and excursions in and outside of class. Move-in for this program is Sunday, June 23, 2024 and move-out is Friday, June 28, 2024.

Commuter: $1,225.00
Tuition for commuters includes the course, course materials, lunches, and excursions in and outside of class. Additional meals are available on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Students may wish to bring funds for incidentals, shopping at the Fordham Bookstore, souvenirs, and any personal items they wish to purchase.


Application deadlines: course and housing: April 15, 2024; course only: May 1, 2024. Please note that admission decisions are rolling until the class is full, and course caps are around 20 students. We recommend early application.

Application Requirements: this non-credit course is open to high school students who have completed their first year. The course is recommended for those with a 3.0 or better. No prior experience with the subject matter is required.

To apply, you will need a copy of your high school transcript and your fall report card if the grades are not reflected on your transcript.

If you are applying for housing, a brief letter of recommendation from a guidance counselor, coach, instructor, or supervisor, attesting to your maturity and responsibility as a student is required.

Please make note of the course details above because you will select your course as part of your application.


If you are not ready to apply, you can sign up to stay informed about the Fordham Summer Leaders Academy too, or email us with questions!

It's not too late! Still accepting applications for classes with open seats until May 31!