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Monday, December 22, 2014
School News
Phys. ed. goes high tech in District 24
Andrew Hackmack/Herald
Jackson Morton plays Fruit Ninja at the William L. Buck School.

Physical education has been the one subject in school where technology has had little impact on teaching. That’s all about to change.

Anyone who visited the William L. Buck School gymnasium last week might not have recognized it. Below the basketball hoops and climbing ropes were video screens, projectors and game consoles. Children were dancing, laughing and competing. More importantly, school officials say, they were exercising.

Phys. ed. teacher Phil Testa brought the iGames to District 24 for the first time, which taught students how they could stay fit doing an activity they love — playing video games. The program was provided by iGame4, a Suffolk County-based interactive fitness company. Last week, the program was at Buck. This week it is at Brooklyn Avenue School and next week it heads to Carbonaro.

Students used the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Connect to play a variety of games. In Fruit Ninja, children used their arms to chop up fruit. Their movements were picked up by a scanner. In Connect Adventures, the kids could do virtual whitewater rafting or complete an obstacle course. “It’s constant movement, using your arms and your legs,” Testa said. “Your heart rate’s up and you’re burning calories. It’s fun.”

Testa said in just five minutes, a child could burn 150 to 200 calories. The students rotated games during each 50-minute session playing the interactive video games, which took the spot of their regular phys. ed. classes for the week.

He noted that video games today are much different than when he was a child, where kids typically sat on the couch with a remote control. There was no exercise that way, Testa explained, and the rate of childhood obesity skyrocketed.

Jason Zucker and Jennifer Reich, instructors with iGame4, said they visit schools throughout Long Island and the goal is to show children that there are ways to get exercise right at home. Reich said the feedback from teachers and administrators has been very positive, and the children love it, too.

“You have kids that have never really done a lot of movement before that now are moving,” Reich said, adding that most of them, even the boys, love the dance games.

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