IDAHO FALLS — Hope Lutheran School sixth-graders are taking part in an eight-month test, but the task isn’t as odious as it may seem.
The school is working with Idaho National Laboratory and Mayo Clinic officials to study the impacts of using vertical workstations in the classroom. The tall desks and stools, individually adjusted to each student’s needs, allow the kids to either sit or stand while working on their studies. And they include a sway bar on which students can place their feet on.
“I really like the sway bar; you can kick back and forth instead of just sitting their all day,” said student Denton Redman.
The study will help officials determine if the desks can positively impact student attentiveness, social interaction and classroom management. And they’re hoping that students might also burn some extra calories while using the desks, which could prove helpful in fighting childhood obesity.
“Schools are becoming increasingly concerned with the rise in student obesity and inactivity, and they have been trying to find opportunities to help students become healthier,” said INL study lead Brad Snedden. “We hope our impact analysis study will provide some data for one option that may influence both student health and academic performance.”
After learning of other schools that were using vertical workstations, Hope Lutheran officials asked the INL to determine if the desks could actually make a difference. And the Mayo Clinic was brought in to add additional expertise regarding the calories burned during non-exercise activities.
Although the students began using the desks in January, officials started collecting data in October. Each of the students carries a pedometer which is tracked daily, and teacher Jim Oloff makes notes throughout the day regarding classroom management and student attentiveness. Officials also take regular measurements of students’ height and weight.
Although the students have only been using the desks for a month, Oloff has already noticed an increase in attentiveness.
“There’s less restlessness,” he said. “They’re allowed to stand whenever they want to and sit when they want to.”
That’s especially appealing to student Dylan Trowbridge.
“I like to stand,” he said, adding that he hopes the school will start using vertical workstations on a permanent basis. “I don’t know why. I just don’t like sitting around all the time.”