Educators in Japan Have Wild, Eco-Friendly Idea: Use Cukes to Cool Schools
I must admit that educators in Japan have demonstrated to me that there's simply no limit to their imagination while coming up with some fascinating material recently. Using Miso soup to educate their students about a sustainable diet in a relatively small, crowded, island nation; and using play with wood blocks to teach them the same about forestry practices in that country But the latest and greatest craze seems to be the creation of "Green Curtains" around school buildings to help them turn down the a/c to save energy, and the movement has been gaining steam since April when their current school year kicked off.
Essentially, they're building giant trellises out of netting from the ground through the third floors to help cool the place, and having the kids take turns tending the gardens of cucumbers and dishcloth gourds that wind their way vertically up them during break time. As the plants grow the increasing amount of shade helps to reduce the amount of sunlight actually reaching the building, while the amount of water that collects on the leaves helps reduce overall temperatures in the surrounding area via evaporative cooling as the day heats up.
While researchers have found that the "curtains" actually cut temperatures inside the classroom by one degree with the windows open and roughly four with the windows closed I must admit to being both fascinated and a bit skeptical. There certainly seems to be a whole lot of work involved growing these sky-high vegetables, and its going to take a significant amount of commitment on the part of both students and staff to see that they're well tended. But there's already a support group spring up around them, quite aptly named the "Green Curtain Support Group". And with roughly 130 schools taking part already, I suspect there must be a future for cukes in Japanese schools everywhere!