Building Better Schools with Daylight to Improve Student Performance.
Did you know that by the time pupils finish their schooling, they’ve probably spent around 15,600 hours inside a school building? It is perhaps no surprise then, that classroom design has a significant impact on effective learning, as well as children’s health and well-being.
Of all of the classroom design options available to improve student performance and health in today’s classrooms, it is access to daylight that has been proved to have the most positive effects.
Natural light promotes a healthy teaching and learning environment, specifically through vitamin D generation, circadian regulation and the production of neural transmitters, such as serotonin.
Vitamin D is good for the body’s internal system, helping absorb calcium - a crucial component for the bone health of growing kids.
Serotonin, sometimes known as the happy chemical, leaves us feeling more energized, happy and well-rested, while fighting and reducing stress, anxiety, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
But what does all this mean for the teaching environment? Put simply, students exposed to daylight will demonstrate improved levels of concentration in the classroom. And the benefits of daylight work for teachers and lecturers too!
It’s psychology too…
Researchers found students feel better, safer and have less stress when they have access to natural light because it creates a sense of physical and mental comfort.
Overall, it all adds up to better student performance and education…
One study found that students in classrooms with high levels of daylight exhibited faster and more effective learning rates than those with low levels of daylight. Specifically, classrooms with daylight resulted in students having improved maths scores of (20%) and reading (26%) – as compared with students under little to no daylight.
So how do you light up dark classrooms with daylight?
When designing new schools, or remodelling old schools, introducing adequate daylight can often be challenging. However, Solatube sun tunnels or sun pipes can pipe daylight down or along highly reflective tubes, over very long distances, delivering daylight far deeper in to buildings than a window on the outside wall can achieve. A Solatube sun tube can therefore overcome the limitations associated with windows and traditional skylights in both new and retrofit applications.
What are Solartube sun tunnels?
Solartubes are a way of piping lots of bright daylight along a highly reflective tube in to dark rooms and spaces. A specially designed clear dome sit on the roof or wall of a building, engineered to capture sunlight from virtually any angle. They then direct that daylight into the building space via highly reflective tubes, finally diffusing a beautiful spread of natural light into the area beneath. Solatube Daylight Dimmers can also be fitted to allow classrooms to be darkened when needed, much like electrical lights.
The best part is that this technology nearly eliminates infrared wavelengths from 950-2500nm, allowing the system to deliver a full spectrum of visible light without bringing in the heat, making Solartube sun tunnels perfect for hot climates where traditional skylights may be a problem.
Similarly, being highly insulated a Solatube sun pipe does not suffer from heat loss either as they only require a small diameter opening through the roof to deliver the same amount of light as a much larger Velux style roof window or sky light. This means there is a much smaller opportunity for heat to escape.
Anecdotal evidence from a teacher in Somerset who was asked what she thought of the new Solatube sun tunnels that had been installed in her classroom a few days previously were astonishing: She had 2 children who both suffered from severe migraine headaches on an almost daily basis, frequently causing disruption in the class. From the day the Solatubes were installed neither child exhibited the same symptoms. In addition it was also noticed there was a significant improvement in concentration levels across the class with far less disruptive behaviour from all pupils. Not only was the teacher relieved, less stressed and happier, it was clear that the children were too!