Can Green Spaces at Schools Make Children smarter?
Children delight in playing in the patches of grass, trees and playgrounds in and around most schools these days and researchers have long documented how important this type of exposure to nature can be to their physical health. But what about their brains?
Can Green Spaces at Schools Make Children smarter?
By Ariana Eunjung Cha /

Children delight in playing in the patches of grass, trees and playgrounds in and around most schools these days and researchers have long documented how important this type of exposure to nature can be to their physical health. But what about their brains?

A study published Tuesday suggests that all that green may boost cognitive development. In a 12-month period, the researchers documented that those exposed to more greenness near their school saw a 5 percent increase in working memory -- a measure of short-term memory -- and a 1 percent reduction in inattentiveness.

"The brain develops steadily during prenatal and early post-natal periods, which are considered as the most vulnerable window for effects of environmental exposure," the authors wrote.

In an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers wrote that there are many theories about why green spaces may have beneficial cognitive effects: "Natural environments including green spaces provide children with unique opportunities such as inciting engagement, risk taking, discovery, creativity, mastery and control, strengthening sense of self, inspiring basic emotional states including sense of wonder, and enhancing psychological restoration."

The researchers also theorized that the green spaces might have led to more physical activity, which itself is related to higher cognitive functioning, and that the green spaces may reduce pollutant levels, which is also associated with higher cognitive functioning.

This is believed to be the first epidemiological study on the impact of green space exposure on the cognitive development of schoolchildren. It involved 2,593 participants ages 7 to 10 in second to fourth grades in Barcelona.

A previous study, published in PLOS ONE last October, looked at "greenness" near 905 public elementary school in Massachusetts and found a similarly positive effect on student performance. Using satellite imagery, the researchers — from Taiwan, Harvard University, Brown University and elsewhere — were able to determine how thick vegetation was in certain areas; they then compared that with the results of third-grade standardized tests from 2006 to 2012 at the Massachusetts schools. They found that the schools with more greenery had higher test scores even when adjustments were made for race, gender, English as a second language, income, student-teacher ratio and school attendance.

4.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 13,361 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 7,446 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 6,659 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Who I'm Voting For...
3 min · 5,942 views today · Prince Ea announces who he's voting for. It's probably not who you think.
Free Trade Explained In An Excellent Comic
Michael Goodwin, Illustrated by Dan E. Burr · 5,275 views today · The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) are the latest in a long line...
Open Up - Have the Difficult But Important Conversations With Loved Ones
5 min · 3,063 views today · “The biggest casualty of humanity is the lack of communication, it’s the thing that breaks most relationships. It just feels so much better to talk and get it out.” There is...
25 Mind-Twisting Optical Illusion Paintings by Rob Gonsalves
Dovas · 2,834 views today · The beautiful and mind-bending illusions in Canadian artist Robert Gonsalves’ paintings have a fun way of twisting your perception and causing you to question what in his...
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change (2015)
11 min · 1,993 views today · Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday; or that chopping...
#Hypernormalisation - Why Heathrow Plan Is Proof We Exist in a Catastrophic Fantasyland
Matthew Adams · 1,924 views today · The British government recently gave the green light for Heathrow airport’s third runway. It was heralded by its supporters as a vital boost for jobs and growth – and proof...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,652 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
'Maritime Graveyard': 2016 Deadliest Year Ever for Refugees Crossing Mediterranean
Deirdre Fulton · 1,539 views today · "From one death for every 269 arrivals last year, in 2016 the likelihood of dying has spiraled to one in 88," says UNHCR spokesman
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 1,508 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,127 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
The Empire Vs. The People - Police Attack and Arrest Peaceful Protestors at the Dakota Access Pipeline
6 min · 1,102 views today · On October 22, just before dawn, hundreds of people, including many families, gathered and prepared to march toward the Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Standing...
The Burden of the New Story
Adebayo Akomolafe · 758 views today · The 'new story' - that longed for milieu when all is right with the world and things are set straight - seems to be taking its sweet time coming. Why?
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 718 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Ode to Lesvos
5 min · 691 views today · An inspiring story of a few remarkable heroes on the Island of Lesvos who helped almost half a million refugees in 2015 has been documented in a new short film called Ode to...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 453 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
These Incredible Stories Remind Us of Our Better Selves
36 min · 431 views today · #WhoWeAre is a campaign to share the stories of people whose actions show us compassion and to send a message of empathy, hope and optimism. These videos will automatically...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 422 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Can Green Spaces at Schools Make Children smarter?