A SCHOOL is taking part in an unusual experiment to keep pupils awake during lessons.

Spider plants are being put in classrooms at Alder Grange Community, Technology School to help improve students’ concentration levels during long lessons.

The experiment at the Rawtenstall school is part of research measuring how levels of carbon dioxide vary in classrooms.

The project, being carried out in partnership with East Barnet School in North London, will include using spider plants because they are the most effective at absorbing CO2.

Deputy headteacher Simon Varley said: “Over the next few months, through our work with East Barnet, we are comparing CO2 levels in similar sized classrooms, that have similar numbers of students, that are the same age.

“We will monitor this data and, going forward, look at how the CO2 levels vary with plants in the classroom.

“We will be putting spider plants in the classroom to see what difference they make, and hopefully we won’t be overrun by them.

“Both our schools have initially found that at certain times during the school day CO2 levels are increasing.” The research is being carried out through the DISTANCE project, which aims to get students and teachers measuring and sharing data in ways that help make learning fun and link directly to the curriculum.

Mr Varley said: “At the moment, we think that the higher CO2 may affect concentration levels when students are based in one room for a significant period of time, such as a double period, which lasts 100 minutes. Our project is to start and investigate ways of measuring drops in concentration, which is difficult to do.

“One way of doing this is to ask the students how they feel at the start and end of lessons. The students would reply, good, no change, not so good.

“After a few weeks we will then introduce plants and survey the students again.

“The opportunity for students from both schools to compare ‘live’ data during their lessons is an exciting opportunity and will enhance the learning experience for our students.”