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New technology at one elementary school reboots gym class

Lu Interactive Playground turns physical education class into an interactive and fun learning experience

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A blend of activities and academics keeps kids entertained while they exercise their bodies and minds. 

"In gym class, we've been doing this Lu and it's really fun because you get to play games in the middle of the day," Jessie Mcelroy said. 

The third-grade student at John Sevier Elementary School in West Knoxville enjoys the games with a purpose.

Lu Interactive Playground is a 3D camera system that transforms giant wall projections into touch screens that detect objects.

Think of it as a giant interactive whiteboard that reboots PE.

Credit: WBIR
Lu is a 3D camera system that transforms giant wall projections into touch screens that detect objects.

"The more they get up and move the more they use their brain," Amanda Mullen said. "And Mr. Rouse, we're so lucky to have a physical education teacher that is pulling in cross-curricular activities and pulling in all sorts of things to make PE more well-rounded for the 21st-century kid."

Alex Rouse is the Physical Education teacher who embraced the new approach to gym class.

"We do want to focus on getting the answer right but do we want to move our body in front of the right answer?" he asked the class. 

The answer is yes.

It blends academics and activities so a student who prefers math to PE and a student who likes PE better than math can both benefit.

Credit: WBIR
Kamber Kite throws a ball to solve a math problem

Third-grader Kamber Kite appreciates the new system.

"Here in gym we get to learn a lot of stuff like math and a lot of stuff on games," he said. 

Credit: WBIR
One Lu program combines addition and subtraction with throwing balls

For example, one timed game flashes math problems on the wall then kids heave balls to hit the correct answer. 

"We do multiplication and division and adding and subtracting. Here we just do so far her we just do subtraction and addition," Jessie said.

Amanda Mullen is not only a third-grade teacher but also a mother. Her children are students at John Sevier Elementary.

"They come home and they are so excited. They're like, mom, guess what we did. We learned the continents while we were throwing a ball. And I'm like that is really cool because guess what, in class they are also learning the continents. So it is supporting what we are doing in the classroom while teaching a physical education skill," she said. 

"We're getting kind of sweaty because we're working hard and all that stuff trying to figure out all that stuff like problems," Kamber said.

Credit: WBIR
Gym class at John Sevier Elementary School ends with a few minutes of quiet time

After a lot of activity, gym class concludes with a few minutes of calm. 

"It's like a meditation app. You breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth," Jessie said.

It engages the minds and muscles of modern kids.

The Lu Interactive Playground system costs $21,000 for hardware, software and maintenance.

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