Livable Building Award (02-12-21)

The Center for the Built Environment at the University of California, Berkeley has presented its 2020 Livable Building Award to the renovation and expansion of Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco.   The award “recognizes buildings that demonstrate ‘livability’ in terms of occupant satisfaction, sustainability and architectural design. . . . .The award jury, consisting of CBE industry partners, commended the design of the school in terms of its openness to the community, its layered access to views and daylight, and also that the design addressed equity, carbon and resilience. . .

Air Pollution and Mental Performance (12-01-20)

Research completed by a Mullen-lead team not only confirms the value of air outside being fresh, but also the advantages of air brought into buildings being “scrubbed.”  The investigators report that  “Fine particulate air pollution is harmful to children in myriad ways. While evidence is mounting that chronic exposures are associated with reduced academic proficiency, no research has examined the frequency of peak exposures. . . .

Trees and Academic Success (11-19-20)

Research confirms that trees do indeed add value to our lives.  Kuo, Klein, Browning, and Zaplatosch collected data for 450 schools and 50,000 students in communities ranging from rural to urban in Washington State and report that “‘Hundreds of studies show a positive link between contact with nature and learning outcomes. . . . We wanted to make sure the same pattern was true in this vulnerable and overlooked population,’ says Ming Kuo. . .

Nature IN Classrooms (10-16-20)

Van den Bogerd and colleagues studied the effects of having plants in a university and secondary school classrooms.  They report that after students attended one lecture in a classroom with plants in it that “Perceived environmental quality of classrooms with (rather than without) indoor nature was consistently rated more favourably. Secondary education students also reported greater attention, lecture evaluation, and teacher evaluation after one lecture in classrooms with indoor nature compared to the classroom without.”

Barriers (Real and Imagined) and Cheating (09-28-20)

Zhao lead a group that investigated how environments can influence cheating by 5- and 6-year olds. The team report that they “test the moral barrier hypothesis, which posits that moral violations can be inhibited by the introduction of spatial boundaries, including ones that do not physically impede the act of transgressing. We found that both real and imagined barriers, when placed strategically [between children and a piece of paper with the answers to test questions on it], were able to reduce cheating among 5- to 6-y-olds. . . .

Kids, School, and Design

Neuroscientists have comprehensively researched how school design can foster positive learning experiences (the sort that not only benefit individual students but also the societies they’re members of) as well as how young people, in general, experience the physical worlds that surround them.   

Comparing Classroom and Museum Experiences (08-18-20)

Do people experience art differently in museums and classrooms?  Ishiguro and colleagues report that their study “participants viewed 14 specific artworks before and after participating in the VTS [visual thinking strategies] program. The time that participants spent viewing the art and their evaluations of each picture were measured. The results showed that the artworks in the VTS program were found to be more interesting, better liked, and more beautiful in the museum context compared to the classroom context.


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