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Vertical green wall at school helps fight global warming

SINGAPORE — A vertical green wall created by teachers and students from Hougang Primary School not only helped teach students about global warming, it was also able to reduce classroom temperatures by two to three degrees.

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SINGAPORE — A vertical green wall created by teachers and students from Hougang Primary School not only helped teach students about global warming, it was also able to reduce classroom temperatures by two to three degrees.

This low-cost, soil-less green project was one of 55 winners at the annual Ministry of Education (MOE) ExCEL Fest yesterday, where schools showcase their best ideas in teaching. More than 170 projects from 130 schools are being featured at the two-day event.

Inspired by French botanist Patrick Blanc, the creator of “green walls” or vertical gardens, Hougang Primary School decided to create its own walls in 2011 when it ran out of gardening space.

Each wall is made up of two pieces of felt stapled onto a 10mm PVC board, with slits on the first layer to form pockets that hold the plants. A variety of plants such as ferns and orchids grows on these vertical, living walls. The school created one to front the exterior of its compound and another was built outside two classrooms.

Speaking at the awards ceremony yesterday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat called on educators to continue innovating to bring out the best in every child to reach their potential.

“Innovation is for our children’s sake; all our work in MOE is judged by how it brings out the best in the children,” said Mr Heng. “Every school is to bring out the best in every child in every domain, in every school, at every stage of learning whatever the starting point”.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the event, Mr Heng said he hoped teachers will not be afraid of trying something new.

“I would like to encourage our teachers to keep trying; don’t be afraid to try new approaches … That is how we can bring innovation across our entire school system and raise the level of our education system,” he said. How something could be done more effectively and efficiently is what teachers need to keep in mind, said Mr Heng.

Mr Mohan Krishnamoorthy, who heads the school’s Science Innovation and Enterprise Club, said the 29 students who maintain the green wall feel a sense of ownership towards it as they have to prune it once every quarter. “(It) helps them love nature as well,” said Mr Mohan. “The whole idea of having this around the school (is to get) students to appreciate nature, appreciate greenery and that’s our objective.”

During science lessons, the school’s Primary 6 students make use of the green wall to learn how green plants and vertical walls help to reduce global warming. They also find out how green walls can serve as a good alternative to the common garden in land-scarce Singapore.

Students also learn how plants can reduce temperatures in the environment. “They can actually compare (the temperature of the) classrooms on the first floor and (the) second floor,” said Mr Mohan, adding that temperatures have been reduced by two to three degrees. And it only costs the school about S$100 to S$150 to maintain the wall each year, he said.

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