Novelty or reality?

There’s a rather old study of playground renovation that’s been re-circulating recently (via Twitter, via @drbengoldacre and @cebmblog) which claims to demonstrate that really fancy multicoloured markings in primary school playgrounds get kids moving much more.Well, the study did compare 4 schools that had the fancy upgrade with 4 who didn’t, they randomly selected pupils to measure and used fancy gadgets to judge activity levels. And the brightly painted school playgrounds encouraged importantly and significantly more exercise.

Hurray!

But …  it was the first two months back at school. What would have happened if the playground hadn’t been “painted in bright fluorescent colours that varied according to school preference, although castles, dragons, clock faces, mazes, fun trails, dens, hopscotch, letter squares, snakes and ladders, and various animals were consistently popular” and just repainted with a few black-and-white games of snakes and ladders, hopscotch and clock faces? Did the extra enthusiasm for play last into the summer?

Does this study support painting school yards fluorescent colours, or just painting school yards?

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