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Mother Nature a Better Teacher? Schools Powered by Nature Linked to Increase in Academic Achievement

Jul 22, 2016 03:58 AM EDT
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Mother Nature is the best teacher - this is what recent study has shown. Apart from taking learning outdoors, the latest studies show that schools powered by nature have shown an increase in academic achievement. In fact, one school in Hatfield, UK, has already walked the eco-friendly path.

Howe Dell Primary in Hatfield is one of UK's renowned eco-friendly schools. Roofs are made of plants and vegetation, toilets use rainwater for flushing, and classroom sinks are made from recycled yoghurt pots. The eco-friendly school not only helps in making the school a healthier and greener place to learn, but has been shown to improve the performance and behavior of students.

 "There are lots of technologies and tools in the school building, but for me it is about how they are used to enhance the learning of the children," says Debra Massey, Howe Dell Primary head teacher in a report by the Guardian.

The roof that has a plantation also serves as a classroom where students learn about insects and birds. Playgrounds include a learning station where students can study bugs with the help of magnifying glasses.

"The school is a living, learning organism and we are hugely proud of what the building does for the children, because it motivates them," explains Massey.

This is not the first time nature has played a part in learning. In a report by the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture, students gained 20%-26% higher in test scores thanks to the natural light and plants found in classrooms. Improvement in spelling, science, and math has also been recorded.

In a 2015 report by the Atlantic, children who had vegetation around schools also progressed in memory and attention. These studies clearly indicate that an eco-friendly school plays an important part in learning.

Clearly, Howe Dell Primary has inspired architects in Scandinavia to bring the eco-friendly design to schools in Sweden. Founder of 3XN, Kim Herforth Nielsen, hopes to create a school in Stockholm that boasts of hanging gardens, a farm, and green terraces.

"Students [will] learn first-hand about how to work with green technologies, such as urban farming," explained Nielsen, adding "It's not only a nice park, everything has a use and a meaning. You are literally living and learning in a greenhouse."

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