Fostering Hands-On Environmental Education Through Classroom Insulation

Children are participating in hands-on learning about climate change when insulating their schools, but costs remain a challenge at the national scale.

このページを 日本語 で読む

Hands-on initiatives to involve students and parents in the insulation of school classrooms have been generating interest. Projects aim to convert classrooms, which suffer from excessive heat in the summer and cold in the winter, into more pleasant and energy-efficient spaces. Moreover, the renovations provide an educational opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of energy conservation and climate change mitigation. 

Children at Nagareyama Kita Elementary School, Nagareyama City, Chiba Prefecture, taking part in a workshop, where they learned how to install insulation materials alongside local construction workers in August 2023. (Kyodo)

The movement has now expanded to include more than 20 schools across the nation. However, many of these schools rely on donations from local residents to cover the costs, which means there is a limit to the number of retrofits that can be carried out. Experts involved in the endeavor emphasize the need for budget allocation and a unified nationwide effort, particularly in light of recent heat waves.

Guided by workers from a local contractor, children insulate the walls of a classroom, Nagareyama Kita Elementary School, Nagareyama City, Chiba Prefecture, August 2023. (Kyodo)

Hands-On Activities

In August, a workshop on insulation took place at Nagareyama Kita Elementary School in Nagareyama City, Chiba Prefecture. Approximately 40 children and parents participated in the hands-on event. Guided by local construction workers, children worked diligently alongside adults to install insulation materials in the ceiling and walls. They also crafted and installed acrylic interior window panels. The entire process took roughly half a day to complete. For some children, it was the first time to handle a hammer.

A child helps install insulation in the wall of a classroom at Nagareyama Kita Elementary School. (Kyodo)

Before engaging in these hands-on activities, participants were given a study session on climate change. A parent who attended the event commented, "it was a valuable experience for the children."

Adding glass wool insulation to the classroom ceiling. (Kyodo)
Professor of Architecture Masayoshi Takeuchi, a key figure in the initiative from Tohoku University of Art and Design, discusses climate change during a study session held before the thermal insulation work at Nagareyama Kita Elementary School, August 2023.
Temperature distribution in a classroom before renovation (top) and after thermal insulation renovation. An insulated classroom at Saitama City's Shibakawa Elementary School was 6-8 degrees cooler during summer with air conditioning use compared to an unrenovated classroom. (Image provided by Associate Professor Masayuki Mae, The University of Tokyo)

このページを 日本語 で読む