How simulating sunlight in the classroom helps learning

© Andreas Teichler / Futurezone

Bright and cool light keeps you awake and allows you to focus on your work for longer. But it is not convenient. A room flooded with orange light is more relaxing – but that, in turn, makes you tired in the long run. Depending on the color or wavelength range, light can evoke different levels of alertness and well-being in us.

Therefore lighting plays a special role in schools. In principle, the lighting standard for indoor lighting regulates the amount of light that must be provided in the classroom. Uniformity and color rendering are also regulated, so that red in light looks like red as well.

Sunlight simulation

However, the overall atmosphere of the room can be further improved and the learning behavior and interest of the students can be improved, as a research group from Aspern Smart City Research (ASCR) together with Vienna Energy show up. In the Volksschulen Ebreichsdorf, Guntramsdorf und Unterwalterdorf A new lighting system has been installed in Lower Austria, consisting of energy-saving LEDs with so-called HCL-Technic (“Human Centered Lighting”) besteht.

The HCL lighting concept focuses on people. Luminaires that produce high quality lighting have been used. Luminance, uniformity, color rendering and color temperature are chosen optimally. Elisabeth TeufelsbauerUse the case leader in the research project.Customized directional lighting“.

The special feature: This is achieved by daylight control and programming natural sunlight imitative.

The study showed that simulated sunlight made young students feel more alert in class

Biorhythm support

The lighting automatically adapts to the course of the day and thus supports the biorhythm of the students. In addition to mimicking natural sunlight, the system also provides other functions, such as alert work, which teachers can use for a short time. “If there is an exam, for example, the teacher switches from the normal cycle of daylight to active work. Then I have higher lighting or cooler light so that the children are supported in their concentration,” says Teufelsbauer.

In addition, a lighting option is installed for comfortable work. This is convenient, for example, when the class wants to reflect on the day in a circle of chairs. “Then the dim light shines with a lower brightness.”

different sensors

In addition to the lamps, the installed system also consists of various systems tentacles. They measure temperatures, movement, volume, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels in the classroom. “The CO2 indicator He was very popular with teachers. They saw from a small lamp that they had to ventilate again, for example, when the lamp lit up red.” The parameters measured with the sensors can still be evaluated.

Elisabeth Teufelsbauer, Use Case Manager on the project

In any case, the aim of the study was to support the children in their development, but not to increase the pressure on performance with the system, Teufelsbauer stresses. The lighting system also aims to make up for the lack of daylight. The results showed that the system made the children feel more awake overall and that the light contributed to more calmness, concentration and well-being.

Avoid extremes

Extremes should be avoided both at school and at home – eg too little or too much, too warm or too cold light. “The children sleep in a classroom with lots of warm light.” On the other hand, if they are constantly exposed to cold light, as is common in gyms where competitive sports are played, for example, they will be alert for a while, but then very tired. “Balanced, high-quality lighting is best,” she adds.

It is also important that the lighting is of high quality so that no flicker is created. “People don’t notice it themselves, but if they sit under a flashing light source all day, they notice it in the evening and they don’t feel right.”

According to Teufelsbauer, switching to energy-efficient HCL bulbs is generally worthwhile. However, it is slightly more expensive than traditional LED technology. However, traditional LEDs are already well developed and also provide good lighting.

Cell phones, computers, flat screen televisions, and other electronic devices radiate blue light far. The effects of artificial light on human vision and sleep patterns have been discussed for some time.

Study results on the effect of blue light on the day-night rhythm and on our eyes vary widely. A new study has now shown that blue light significantly speeds up the biological aging process.

change in the brain

At least this is true for fruit flies of the genus Drosophila melanogaster. Researchers University of Oregon Expose the insects to an increased dose of blue light for 10 to 14 days. The control group was left in complete darkness.

While no brain changes could be detected in the latter, those insects exposed to the concentrated blue light showed accelerated cell aging—they generally lived shorter lives. Specifically, the content of some metabolic products essential for proper cell function showed changes.

On the one hand was the metabolite succinate high. This promotes the production and growth of each cell. metabolite glutamate On the other hand it has been reduced. This is responsible for communication between neurons. According to the research team, these findings are likely a sign of faster aging of cells.

effect on human

Basically, humans possess the same chemical signaling substances that have been studied in fruit fly cells. However, follow-up studies must first show whether the results of the study also apply to humans.

According to American researchers, this cannot be completely ruled out. However, during the research project, fruit flies were exposed to highly concentrated blue light. On the other hand, humans are exposed to much weaker artificial light in everyday life.

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