The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa City schools implement indoor interactive playground

The Lü Interactive Learning Environment has been installed in 21 elementary schools across the Iowa City area.
A+sign+for+the+Iowa+City+Community+School+District+is+seen+outside+the+districts+administration+building+on+Tuesday%2C+April+28.+
Jake Maish
A sign for the Iowa City Community School District is seen outside the district’s administration building on Tuesday, April 28.

Elementary students across Iowa City have started to use a new indoor interactive learning playground in their physical education classes. The virtual environment has changed the way in which students learn, engaging them in a variety of ways.

The Lü Interactive Learning Environment was implemented in Iowa City schools this past summer. Mann Elementary School, located at 521 N. Dodge St. in Iowa City, was the first to receive the digital playground in June.

The cost of the playgrounds is roughly $21,225 per gym, totaling $445,648.

Physical education teachers were brought in for an all-day training on Aug. 21 to learn how to use the playground’s technology before students were slated to arrive for the first day of school.

The system includes a projector, a sound and lighting unit, and a sensor that tracks teachers’ motion on the screen. This allows students to use both their hands and equipment to interact with the screen and engage in activities.

The system will “pick up” anything that is roughly the size of a tennis ball or larger which allows all students to utilize the system.

Mitchell Wilcox, a physical education teacher at Mann Elementary, said the system has enhanced his teaching experience across all grade levels.

“Using the system we can create a fully interactive environment, create ambiance for our activities, and utilize cross-curricular materials to reinforce learning done in the classroom,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox is able to connect with other teachers in the math and English departments to utilize other Lü applications, such as Newton, Luvia, and MineWorld for quizzes, literacy, and spelling.

Additionally, the playgrounds have impacted student learning. Wilcox said the learning environment enables students to stay engaged in a way they were not able to do before.

“Some students learn best when they are moving and engaged in physical activity as it increases brain activity and this system helps us meet the needs of these students in an engaging and interactive way,” Wilcox said.

Gabriel Wylder, the principal of Mann Elementary, said student engagement, teamwork, and collaboration are all skills that have come out of this new environment.

“It provides access to students who may not be particularly excited about P.E. and helps them focus on a specific skill,” Wylder said.

Wylder said that Mann Elementary is looking to use Lü cross-circularly, allowing teachers from different departments to utilize the environment, as the school year progresses.

“It helps prepare our students for what they need to be ready for when they leave the K-12 environment,” Wydler said.

Jen Neubauer, a physical education teacher at Alexander Elementary and Iowa City Community School District’s new physical education curriculum coordinator, said the addition of Lü is enhancing what is already being done.

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“The students were so excited when I first introduced them to the Lü. They were all moving and just so engaged right away,” Neubauer said.

Neubauer has used the different Lü programs and now tailors her lesson plans accordingly.

“It’s just very exciting to try something new and also to be very vulnerable with my students,” Neubauer said.

Lü provides students with a visual component that is captivating and actively makes students want to learn, Neubauer said.

“This system is about as advanced as there is in our environment and it is a privilege to have it in our schools,” Wilcox said.

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About the Contributors
Shreya Reddy, News Reporter
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Shreya Reddy is a freshman at the University of Iowa. Coming from a small town in Kansas, Shreya is double majoring in English and Political Science on the Pre-Law track. Before coming to the Daily Iowan, she has written for her neighborhood magazine and her schools literary magazine as well as writing an investigative journalism piece.