FitDesks help Medary students stay focused

Gina Goblirsch, Reporter

Students at Medary Elementary now have 19 new stationary bikes available to them in their classrooms thanks to one teacher in particular.

Lara Langelett is a 3rd grade teacher who has been doing extensive research into different ways to keep her students, namely ones suffering from an attention disorder, focused throughout the school day.

“I want to do something where the kids are physically, actively learning,” Langelett said. “But I had to make it pertain to school, how does it help the test scores?  How does it help the kid focus?”

At first, Langelett could only find exercise equipment that was far past the school’s budget. So, she had planned to work with a local bike shop to mount regular bicycles on trainers, so they would be stationary. However, the idea was shot down by the principal because of the threats the spokes and chains posed to the kids.

Nevertheless, Langelett kept searching.

“I saw this bike called a FitDesk for $275 and thought it looked like a great opportunity,” Langelett said.

FitDesks are stationary bikes, similar to ones in the Wellness Center, that brings physical activity into the classroom, as it is a well-tested and proven method for increasing focus.

A counselor in North Carolina conducted a study which found that third, fourth and fifth grade students who utilized FitDesks scored an 83 percent proficiency on end of the year exams, as opposed to the 61 percent average.

She presented the idea to the principal, who agreed to buy the bike. The school paid for the first bike and Langelett applied for a Parent Teacher Association grant to cover the cost of a second bike.

With the two bikes, she conducted a four-week long study to show the value the newly acquired bikes could add to the school. Nearly 90 second and third graders completed activities including reading, flashcards, spelling or using an educational app while riding on the bike.

A survey was then given to the students to assess their feelings about the bikes.

The results showed that the children were happier and the student-teacher relationships had benefited. Rather than teachers yelling at students to pay attention, they simply hand them a “study bike card,” and the student knows to go do a learning activity on the bike and return to class refreshed and ready to focus.

Langelett sent the findings from her research to TransCanada, an oil company that supplies educational grants, and was awarded money to buy more bikes.

On March 16, five SDSU students gathered to help Langelett assemble the 19 new bikes.

“If they start getting disruptive and need to cool down, it’s a nice way for them to burn off energy,” said Anastasia Hoffer, a nutrition and dietetics major who helped with assembly.

With a bike in every classroom and a few in the hallways, FitDesks will be a huge factor in helping Medary Elementary improve their students’ education.