A British school has become the first to try out special lighting that is designed to improve the performance of pupils by waking them up in the morning. Technology firm Philips has come up with blue-tinted light designed to wake children up and become more alert by affecting their internal body clock.
The School Vision lighting system comes with four different settings, each designed to effect the children in a subtly different way. The system is being tested at Epsom and Ewell High School in Surrey, the first place in the UK, to test the innovative approach.
The teacher is able to change the lighting throughout the day using a switch on the wall to suit what the children need. The ‘Normal’ setting is for day-to-day classroom activities, while Energy gives a blue tint to the light to invigorate pupils when they need to be more active.
Focus, which is a whiter light, is designed to help children concentrate during challenging tasks while Calm, a warmer colour, makes the room more relaxed. The panel on the classroom wall has four settings which lets teachers change the lighting.
Research leader Effie Konstatinou, a psychologist at City University, London, said: ‘Lighting has not been seriously considered as a factor in performance until now.’ The system works by manipulating the children’s body clock, which is kept in balance with the light received by the eyes. It is based on research from 2002 which discovered that the amount of light the eye receives determines how the body’s Circadian system operates.
Upsetting it is what prompts jet lag, the daytime lethargy and fatigue caused by quickly crossing many time zones. A cell at the back of the retina, called a ‘photosensitive ganglion cell turns light energy directly into brain signals. The cells send out nerve fibres which travel within the optic nerve and connect with the clock region in the brain.
The researchers believe it is these signals that govern the body’s 24-hour clock. The school’s headteacher, Alex Russell, said that the trial had been a he success. ‘Any teacher will tell you that afternoons are much more challenging behaviourally than the morning.
‘When we put the focus lighting on the students react in an almost subliminal way. It’s addressing a genuine physiological feature. The system has been trialled in schools in Hamburg in Germany and the results are astonishing.
A total of 166 pupils and 18 teachers took part in the year-long scientific experiment and discovered that reading speed increased by 35 per cent, number of errors fell by 45 per cent while restlessness, or hyperactivity, fell by 77 per cent when the blue light was on. -Source: DailyMail UK