PE Classes Use AV, Media, and Video Games to Combat Obesity
Jul 18, 2007 12:00 PM, By Linda Seid Frembes
As schools are adding more and more classroom AV systems, it is the natural progression that AV will show up in other areas outside of the classroom. Recent trends have included the addition of professional sound systems, flat panel displays, and video games into physical education (PE) classes to keep kids motivated and interested in exercise. Much like chalkboards and overhead projectors inside the classroom, a stickball game and running around the track during PE just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The term "exertainment" (the combination of exercise and entertainment) was coined in a 2005 Wired magazine article about a school district adding Sony PlayStation to its regular PE curriculum to keep kids involved in physical activity. Over the last several years, a video game of a different sort has also become a popular PE option. Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) by Konami Digital Entertainment is a music-based video game that is played using a dance pad with four arrow panes; players stand on the pad and tap each pane to correspond with the arrows seen on screen.
DDR has been so successful in getting kids to move that state and school officials in West Virginia entered a partnership with Konami in 2006 to use the game in all of its 765 public schools. According to the announcement, the innovative plan is the first statewide program to employ the dance video game and is intended to attack West Virginia's youth obesity problem. Under the partnership, the schools are not purchasing the arcade consoles, but rather the Xboxes, TVs, and the DDR mats to run the game.
On a side note, DDR has also made its way to higher education. Rather than yoga, golf, or power step, students at Brandeis University can take a DDR class to complete the physical education requirement for all students. The course description reads: “Students play a video game that requires them to use their feet instead of their thumbs. Following the lighted arrows with their feet, Dance Dance Revolution is aerobic in nature and can burn as many calories as a Stairmaster or jogging.”
To attract kids to exercise and create a lifelong habit, schools are also beefing up their AV technology for PE classes. The Midland Independent School District (MISD) in Midland, Texas, recently purchased Califone PowerPro PA916A systems for each of the 24 schools in its district. The PowerPro PA916A systems were acquired with federal funds from a three-year Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant awarded to the district in 2005. According to the program’s website, the purpose of the PEP grant is to initiate, expand, and improve physical education programs for K–12 students in order to help them make progress toward meeting state standards for physical education.
This is especially important in Texas, where a recent study showed that 42 percent of Texas students were overweight or at risk for becoming overweight. “The number one wish our physical education teachers had was to use this grant money to purchase portable sound systems,” says Gwen Smith, the PEP grant coordinator for the district. “Amplification systems would allow our teachers to focus on instruction and activity at hand, instead of constantly trying to catch the attention of 45 to 75 students.”
Each of the PowerPro PA916A systems consist of one PowerPro master unit (PA916), a powered wireless companion speaker (PA916-PS), wired and wireless microphones as well as a tripod to serve the many needs of the PE teachers. The PowerPro master unit, the PA916, offers several onboard source options, including two UHF 16-channel wireless microphone systems, variable speed cassette player/recorder, and a programmable CD player accommodating both CD and CD-R/RW formats. It also includes two microphone inputs (each with volume control) and a set of stereo RCA jacks that for connecting external audio sources or recording devices.
The PowerPro also provides wireless transmission at distances of up to 300 feet to an unlimited number of PA916-PS companion loudspeakers. The PA916-PS has the added benefit of being used as a stand-alone wireless PA, essentially giving each school two wireless speakers to use separately on a daily basis, or to be used together for larger events.
Sound on each of the PowerPro units can be tailored with onboard volume, bass and treble controls, with a volume/mute remote control also included. Voice Priority feature automatically lowers music volume for announcements, and returns to full volume afterwards.
The durable reinforced polypropylene housing also includes a powered two-way loudspeaker with a 10in. woofer (with 2in. voice coil) and 4.25in. cone driver (with 1in. voice coil), both housed in a bass-reflex enclosure tuned to 50Hz protected by a sturdy steel grill. All components are fed by a specially tailored amplifier delivering 90W (RMS) of power.
“We had a pretty tough laundry list of requirements for the system we needed,” Smith says. “It had to be completely wireless and have loudspeakers that could be placed far apart. It also had to be transportable, easy to set-up for non-tech savvy users, come with wireless microphones and work outdoors. I was amazed that the PA916A had everything we needed as well as a reasonable price point. I couldn’t have asked for more and the teachers are delighted.”
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