Published: Sept. 1, 2014

Nature the Stress-Reliever

School playgrounds that incorporate elements of the natural world can help reduce children’s stress and intensify their ability to focus, according to a CU-Boulder-led study.

Natural-terrain schoolyards with dirt, trees or water features also can foster supportive relationships and feelings of competence, researchers found after observing children in a variety of play settings in Colorado and Maryland and interviewing students, teachers, parents and others.

“Schools are really prime sites for an ecological model of health and for building access to nature into part of the school routine as a health measure,” says Louise Chawla, CU-Boulder environmental design professor and lead author of the study, published in the journal Health & Place. Chawla also directs CU-Boulder’s Children, Youth and Environments Center.

From Canadian Fossils, New Hedgehog Species

A CU-Boulder-led research team has identified a new genus and species of tiny hedgehog from fossils discovered in Canada.

The newly identified creature, Silvacola acares, or “tiny forest dweller,” was roughly the length of an adult thumb, or four times smaller in length than the average North American pet hedgehog of today.

Estimated to be about 52 million years old, the hedgehog fossils were found at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park in British Columbia, a site that likely was a rainforest during the early Eocene Epoch, according to researchers, who published their findings in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

It is unknown whether the mini hedgehog had quills, like modern hedgehogs, but lead researcher Jaelyn Eberle of CU-Boulder says it’s “plausible.”

Heard Around Campus

“If it’s really that dangerous, and if even just a fraction of people stop using their phones, we would expect to find some decrease in accidents. But we didn’t find any statistical evidence of a reduction.

— Daniel Kaffine, CU-Boulder associate professor of economics, discussing his study of the impact of California’s ban on drivers’ use of hand-held cellphones.