GREENFIELD — Can a little pedal-power enhance educational outcomes in the classroom? Students and staff at Greenfield’s Newton School are about to find out.
This year, the school has purchased and begun using a variety of Action Based Learning furniture — desks with bike pedals, bouncy seats or kneel-and-spin seats — designed to give students the sort of physical activity that research says stimulates their brains while learning, said Principal Melodie Goodwin.
Goodwin said the school used roughly $16,000 in grant money from Links to Libraries, Action for Healthy Kids, Expanded Learning Time and the EOS Foundation, the same group that helped fund the school department’s Breakfast In The Classroom program, to purchase the furniture.
“Action Based Learning caught my attention, I read the research they were sending out about creating active versus passive classrooms,” Goodwin said. “Kids are expected to sit in hard chairs at a desk and learn, and there’s a belief that physical activity while learning helps generate chemicals in your brain and make it a more productive experience.”
She said the furniture has been installed in the second-grade classrooms, and she’ll be tracking Measures of Academic Progress testing scores for reading and math to see what effects the desks have on student learning.
She hopes to make a case to secure money for more of the furniture. Other classrooms, she said, have students who sit on inflatable core balls or “wobble chairs.”
“We’re very much aware that people learn differently than they used to 50 years ago, and the kids are excited about this,” Goodwin said. “Once it becomes part of the natural environment, they won’t even notice they’re pedaling. It’s the 21st century, and we need to look at healthy sitting just as much as technology.”
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