Schoolchildren and plants

Although by now it is reasonably well understood that children have a strong inherent connection to plants and green natural surroundings, there is surprisingly little research about indoor plants in schools and classrooms. A couple of noteworthy studies have been conducted in Taiwan and Korea, others come from Norway, Turkey, Canada, and a few other countries. However, the studies were not only geographically widespread, but also chronologically, and it seems there has never been a coherent push to develop a strong research community around plants for learning.

The TEASPILS project is trying to change this by piloting plant-based learning in schools, involving students interacting with real plants. Since plants are omnipresent in human surroundings, they can be used as ambient learning objects, but can also be integrated in various school subjects in the form of discussions and activities. Additionally, TEASPILS uses smart IoT planters to facilitate “dialogue” between learners and plants. This works with the application of a set of sensors that measure various environmental and plant-specific variables: air quality, noise level, light, soil characteristics, etc. The analysis of the emerging data is part of developing data literacy in children.

Plants not only serve as aesthetic assets in a room, or as a direct interaction object (which is often used in therapeutic settings). They also carry a lot of meta-physical benefits in that they are part of our culture, national identity, history, or well-being.

To explore learning activities in this direction is another goal of our project. The resulting learning designs will be publicised and shared on the TEASPILS learning platform. Additionally, an open online course will be developed where interested teachers can learn more about the utilisation of plants in their learning spaces.