Students combine exercise, academics for focus

Photo by Alex T. Paschal | AP Photo/Sauk Valley Media In this Feb. 10, 2015 photo, Davin, a kindergartener in Andrea Brenner's class at Jefferson Elementary School in Sterling, Ill., pedals on a stationary machine while working on his math homework. The school has implemented the use of the machines that help some children expel their extra energy and focus on their school work.

Photo by Alex T. Paschal | AP Photo/Sauk Valley Media
In this Feb. 10, 2015 photo, Davin, a kindergartener in Andrea Brenner’s class at Jefferson Elementary School in Sterling, Ill., pedals on a stationary machine while working on his math homework. The school has implemented the use of the machines that help some children expel their extra energy and focus on their school work.

JERMAINE PIGEE

The (Sterling) Gazette

STERLING, Ill. (AP) — Davin, a kindergarten student at Jefferson Elementary School, spent most of Wednesday morning on his thinking machine.

His thinking machine is not something in his imagination. Instead, it is one of seven stationary pedalers in use at the school.

“I call it my thinking machine, because it helps me think,” the soft-spoken 6-year-old said. “I like riding it.”

The machines are the main component of the school’s Read and Ride program, in which students pedal while they do their school work.

“This program was on ‘The Today Show,’ and we looked into it,” Principal Sara Dail said. “We were excited to try something like this here.”

Student achievement in core subjects such as reading and math should increase if students are physically active while they learn, she said.

The stationary pedalers are small enough to fit under a child’s desk or table. They clock time, distance and calories burned.

“Students can pedal while they listen to their math lesson or if they are reading,” Dail said. “Some students have extra energy or have a hard time focusing, but once they start using their extra energy on the pedaler, it brings their focus back.”

The school ordered seven before Christmas break. School officials bought one on their own, for $65, and the Sterling-Rock Falls YMCA paid for the other six. Dail said 117 more will be bought with $10,000 from CGH Medical Center’s Edith Patterson trust fund.

Her goal is to have 30 pedalers in the library, and five in each classroom.

“Our teachers say they have students who really benefit from the pedalers,” Dail said. “Right now, they are given to students who need to expend that extra energy throughout the day. We are looking to get the other bikes shortly.”

The program is expected to expand to other schools in the district.

“I know other elementary buildings are excited about the program, as well,” Dail said.

Kindergarten teacher Andrea Brenner has a pedaler in the middle of her room. Students used it Wednesday as they went through a math lesson.

“I love it, because I have some students who cannot focus on the learning at all,” Brenner said. “When they are on the bike, they can move and they are able to focus. I see a big difference in the level of attention.”

Brenner also said the bikes can calm students down.

“They have so much energy, and they need to move, and this helps to slow them down. It doesn’t increase or decrease their energy, it just helps them use their energy in a more positive way.”

Lee, 6, likes riding the bike “’cause it helps me think and it helps me to learn,” he said. “It helps me with the numbers and it helps me learn letters.”

Trinity, 5, said she’s looking forward to more pedalers.

“If we have more of them, everyone would not have to wait a long time to ride it.”

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Source: The (Sterling) Gazette
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.