School gets 'learnometers' for happy, healthy classrooms

 

School gets learnometers for happy, healthy classrooms
The process of making learning better also engages everyone as reflective learners, improving their experience further.

Dubai - The Learnometer is a unique combination of hardware, software and analysed data that helps learners and schools perform better by optimising physical environments for learning.

By Saman Haziq

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Published: Thu 31 Aug 2017, 9:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Aug 2017, 11:37 PM

Ever felt positive energy, happiness, excitement and freshness when you are around plants or greenery? According to health experts, a great deal of our mental and physical health is determined by our environment. 
Dubai-based school The Kindergarten Starters (KGS), Al Garhoud branch, has become the first to instal a 'Learnometer' that samples the classroom environment and checks for levels of light, heat and air-quality in its classrooms. 
The Learnometer is a unique combination of hardware, software and analysed data that helps learners and schools perform better by optimising physical environments for learning. The process of making learning better also engages everyone as reflective learners, improving their experience further.
A research team under Professor Stephen Heppell in the UK has built the Learnometer, which automatically samples the classroom environment, and makes suggestions through a unique algorithm on what could be changed to allow students to learn and perform at their best.
The pilot project has been undertaken by Gems Education at KGS and is the very first of its kind in the region. The school installed Learnometers in some classrooms to analyse the classroom environment. The school also placed indoor plants in all of its 162 classrooms to improve its air quality.
The plants used include Ficus Elastica (rubber plant), Nephrolepis (fern), Chlorophytum Comosum (spider plant), Hedera Helix (English ivy), and Epipremnumaureum (money plant). The school staff said that these air filtering plants improve indoor air quality, according to studies conducted by Nasa as part of a clean air study published in 1989, which found that common indoor plants may provide a natural way of removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, besides absorbing carbon dioxide. 
An action research under way at the school has shown the positive impact of reduced amounts of carbon dioxide on students with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
"One week after placing indoor plants in our classrooms, when we went into the class to check the Learnometer reading, we were amazed at the drastic reduction in carbon dioxide levels it had recorded. In fact, we teachers ourselves also felt a cooling effect and positivity in the air as we entered the classrooms. I think this can also bring down stress levels of students and teachers, which is very important to maintain a happy and positive atmosphere in class. The very sight of plants in the classroom is extremely soothing to the eyes," said a teacher at KGS. 
"The device was brought to us by Phil Redhead, the senior digital advisor at Gems Education. We are using the Learnometer at KGS to study environmental factors that affect student learning. Research confirms that poor light levels, wrong temperatures, inappropriate sound volumes and rhythms, humidity, air pollution, carbon dioxide and air pressure can all impair learning," according to another KGS staff. 
Cloud-based logging through the Learnometer allows checking at a glance how the environment looks, comparing it with benchmark standards.
"Many things need to change to lead a life more integrated with the natural systems that surround us. By providing each class with plants, we have ensured this important change at KGS for an authentically sustainable life through a change in our habits. With the indoor plants and Learnomerters on its premises, the school is now all set to welcome its 5,300 students to an invigorating and appealing environment," said KGS Principal Asha Alexander. 
"As we plan the supporting infrastructure of our campus, we strive to be mindful systems thinkers - a philosophy and approach that keeps us heading toward our destination of true sustainability," she added.
According to Sir Christopher Stone, CEO at Gems Education: " This will have huge implications for several of our schools in the region."
Alexander added: "We are waiting to welcome our young learners to a classroom where day-by-day, our students develop a strong bond with nature. By making it part of who we are, we feel inclined to nourish it, compelled to respect it and empowered to care of it now and forever."
saman@khaleejtimes.com
 



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