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Record ID: 210
Award(s): Excellence in Research Mentoring
Student Major: Neurobiology
Project Advisor: Annette Stowasser
Abstract: Education is essential to cognitive development, but what is essential to a better education? I believe it's important to constantly evaluate our education system and see what areas could use improvement. How can we make our education systems more beneficial and inclusive to All students to improve understanding and retention of learned material? One area of investigation is the influence of nature exposure. A multitude of studies have shown the different benefits of nature exposure to both physical and mental health. What I'm curious to find out is, can the incorporation of nature, benefit learning and improve cognitive performance. To investigate if green environments improve cognitive performance, I reviewed and compared 16 different studies involving the incorporation of nature in different ways, from students who sit near a window, to hands-on outside learning. I tracked and compared various important aspects such as age range, sample size, methods used, etc... All 16 studies showed results that students were more engaged in their learning and performed better overall. For example, one study showed on average, the number of times students needed to be redirected to focus on the lesson, was cut almost in half following a lesson outdoors. While these studies seem to show that green spaces help, it remains to be seen if there is also a benefit for the teachers and a more diverse group of students. I propose further research, involving an additional focus on teachers and another involving how we can improve the diversity of the students.