Peppermint and rustling

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
Primary pumps sounds and smells into Year 6 classes in bid to improve results

Artificial smells and sounds have long been used by high street giants to encourage customers to part with their cash - but now a Liverpool primary school is hoping an experiment involving the two senses will improve its pupils' results.

A four-week trial involving pumping smells and sounds into its classrooms has begun at All Saints RC Primary School in Anfield. Researchers hope the experiment will help children concentrate better and retain more information.

The trial will run in the afternoons and will involve the school's two Year 6 classes - one group will enjoy a peppermint aroma while the other will be subject to a background of natural sounds such as running water and rustling leaves.

Headteacher Jeremy Barnes said he had to get parents' permission and added: "No parents have come back and prevented their child from taking part."

Mr Barnes added: "I'm interested in ways of maximising the effectiveness of the learning environment. They are looking at concentration levels and memory retention and a more positive attitude to learning where the children think 'this is pleasant to be in this classroom'."

The project is being run by Glyndwr University in Wrexham and architecture practice Nightingale.

One of the classrooms has been fitted with extra-thick ceiling tiles so the noises do not reverberate around the room. Researchers will work with a psychologist from the university, with children asked to perform a daily five-minute computer-based exercise to discover how the environment is helping them learn.

"This is a blind test, but I've always promoted music in primary schools," Mr Barnes said. "I'm very fixed on the idea that music can help and as for the smell the jury's out a bit more. But this experiment is about giving it a go."

Caroline Paradise, Nightingale's design research co-ordinator, said the firm had approached All Saints 18 months ago after carrying out upgrade work there. She added: "If the results are positive, they could be used as a toolkit for schools in the future to use to enhance the learning environment," she said.

A number of schools have already tried new methods of helping children improve concentration levels, with Monkseaton High School, Tyne Wear, recently opening a new building which is flooded with natural daylight.

The results of the All Saints experiment will be unveiled in June.

MAKING SENSE OF IT ALL

Sugar cookie ka-ching!

Artificial smells were used to make sure customers at the Hard Rock cafe in Orlando, US, visited an often overlooked ice cream shop in the basement.

The scent of sugar cookie at the top of the stairs was used with waffle cone at the bottom to draw guests down to the ice cream shop.

At Legoland in Windsor, a coffee shop at the theme park uses chocolate chip cookie scent "to soften the bitter coffee aroma" which also "sweetens" the cookies and muffins being sold there.

Eine Kleine Brain Musik

The so-called "Mozart effect" is based on research which suggests a child could increase their intelligence by listening to his music.

In 1993, researchers at the University of California discovered that 10 minutes of the Austrian composer increased students' short-term ability to perform some types of mental reasoning.

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