BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — A new, interactive system at Wayne Trail Elementary allows students to get their minds and bodies moving in a whole new way.
The Lu is a state-of-the-art system at Wayne Trail Elementary designed to creatively engage students. Sometimes described as a virtual playground or “smart gym,” the technology includes a projector mounted to the ceiling of the gymnasium with a movement sensor and a light and sound system. The technology provides students the opportunity to engage in both health and fitness and academic activities.
Last week, the Lu system was used for a schoolwide reward day for positive behavior. Wayne Trail substitute teacher Heather Calkins facilitated the program and said the kids had a great time throwing balls at a target on the wall to earn points for their team.
“This is just a fun way to get kids out of their seats and active, which they haven’t been able to do because of COVID,” she said. “This activity has been great because they are learning teamwork.”
District technology director Jason Dugan initiated the purchase of the Lu. The system was installed last April and cost $20,000. It was funded through the JLW grant, which is money donated to the school district by an anonymous donor for large projects. Dugan first saw the system two years ago at a conference and said that the technology outmatched others currently on the market.
“What is real interesting about it is that fact that many people in the past have used a projector in a gym to play games, but it has never been this fully interactive,” said Dugan.
In addition to the lights and speakers integrated with movement, if a child throws a ball at a projected target on the screen, it will respond, he added.
“The program actually senses the ball hitting it,” Dugan said.
The software offers programs for a variety of physical education activities, such as yoga, workout videos and dancing. In addition, there are academic programs for kindergarten through fifth grade in math, English and language arts. The district also purchased additional software, enabling Wayne Trail teachers to create activities focused on review questions for specific tests or activities.
“It has different functionalities across the board and it’s just a fun and interactive way for kids to get up and get moving while they are learning,” said Dugan.
The Lu system was developed by a company in Canada and Wayne Trail is one of only two schools in the state with the technology, he added.