Bright lights flashed and music played in an activity room at Belgreen Elementary School on Friday, but students weren’t involved in play time.
They were learning.
The students were showing how the school’s new Lu Interactive Playground can teach lessons while letting them engage in physical activity.
The Lu Interactive Playground incorporates giant wall projections, 3-D cameras and a powerful sound system to let children learn in an entirely new way.
Joseph Sylve, head of USA business affairs for the Quebec, Canada, company, said the playground is an innovative application that engages kids in physical activity.
But it’s more than that.
Belgreen students formed two teams and as simple math problems flashed upon the wall, they threw a large rubber ball at the correct answer. If the right answer was struck, they received a point. Problems flash up and they have a few seconds to hit the correct answer with the ball.
Another application involved geography, and students threw the balls at countries in the western hemisphere. Another application flashed a jumbled map of the world and students had to correctly rearrange the pieces.
“It bridges what’s going on in the classroom with what’s going on in the gym,” Sylve said.
Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton said he saw the playground at a superintendent’s conference and mentioned it to Principal Anne Scott.
“I said, I want it,” Scott said.
Scott said the playground cost $15,000, which was funded by an anonymous Franklin County donor.
Hamilton said Belgreen has the first Lu Interactive Playground in the state.
“It’s another educational tool,” the superintendent said.
Sylve said the first prototype was created two years ago, and the system was introduced in the United States about a year ago.
He said it’s geared toward elementary and middle school students.
The system also can be used as a movie projector. New applications are introduced frequently and automatically uploaded to the system.
Sylve said the system is inclusive, unlike some traditional physical education programs
Coach Susan Crittenden said a child who uses a wheelchair has participated in activities on the Lu playground.
“Everyone can join in,” she said. “I think it keeps them engaged and not bored.”