Washington: A Catholic primary school in Australia has come out with a new classroom design, which look more like the Star Trek ship Enterprise than a traditional school setting, to help educate a new generation of smart students.

The new age classrooms at St Mary's Primary in North Sydney are called "borderless learning" and allow children freedom to move around and morph into smaller and larger groups depending on the learning activity. Traditional rows of desks have given way to cafe-style work booths, soft lounges, wave chairs, cube chairs, amphitheatres and even stand-up learning.

The students helped design their own classrooms, choosing furniture within a budget and then delivering presentations on what worked the best for them, while parents held fund-raising drives to help pay. Principal Rosemary DeBono said that the kids find the atmosphere very calming and they are very engaged in their learning.

"The children like room to move and they like the space that is now available, the opportunity to work together collaboratively," DeBono said. Hot colours are a key feature of the spacey classrooms, which have been designed from kindergarten to Year 6. According to teacher Joanne Frith, the bright colours encourage creativity.

Some children even work standing up and the new layout is said to suit boys who do not like to sit for long periods in one place. "It's not so much about the furniture but how and why we teach. We needed to free teachers to take risks ... change practice," DeBono noted. The changes have attracted interest from the education community and the school has delivered presentations to schools and to Catholic education chiefs.

(Agencies)

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