Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

497 Speedway rolling in elementary schools

September 27, 2006

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Drivers took position. Pit crews stood by. And muscle-powered engines tensed for action, ready to roll.

Langston Hughes School fourth-grader Kellie Patrick, right, braces herself for a turn on the track as she is raced around the gymnasium floor by classmate Marlee Yost-Wolff on a makeshift race car. The two competed in the 497 Speedway event during gym class Tuesday. In an effort to increase physical activity, students at Lawrence elementary schools will be recording their daily steps during school hours with personal pedometers.

Langston Hughes School fourth-grader Kellie Patrick, right, braces herself for a turn on the track as she is raced around the gymnasium floor by classmate Marlee Yost-Wolff on a makeshift race car. The two competed in the 497 Speedway event during gym class Tuesday. In an effort to increase physical activity, students at Lawrence elementary schools will be recording their daily steps during school hours with personal pedometers.

All eyes were on Reenie Stogsdill, a physical education teacher at Langston Hughes School.

Stogsdill, holding a green flag, gave it a wave.

And with a roar, dozens of fifth-graders' feet thunderously pounded the wooden floor - 497 Speedway was under way.

For the next 20 minutes or so, the school's gym became a squealing, action-packed, student-powered raceway complete with power turns, clever driving strategies and even an occasional wipeout.

"It's a lot of fun," said Jamie Wilson, one of about 30 fifth-graders in the class.

The 497 Speedway - which involves pushing makeshift cars and drivers around gym floors - also was being officiated Tuesday by 40 other gym teachers in nine other Lawrence elementary schools.

Some 800 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders are in the race, pushing "cars" each made from an exercise mat placed atop three square-shaped gym scooters.

The race is as much about good health as taking home the prize. Students wear pedometers to keep track of their steps.

"Whoever wins, we get to keep our pedometers," said Nicholas Ebner, catching his breath as a bead of sweat rolled down his face.

Racing for health

Reenie Stogsdill, physical education teacher at Langston Hughes Elementary School, explains USD 497 Speedway, a program designed to get students moving, using pedometers as an incentive. Enlarge video

Nicholas' team, the Pink Panthers, had a strategy of leaning into the turns, then sitting up for the straightaways.

He held up his pedometer, which showed he already had taken 1,764 steps.

The pedometers were purchased with a $6,000 Kansas Coordinated School Health Program grant, said Lynda Allen, who administers the school district's physical education programs.

Each day this week, from the beginning of the school day to the end, students will wear the pedometers, Allen said.

All of their steps, including the races in the gyms, will be counted. Students in the class with the greatest average steps per student per day will get their own pedometers, Allen said.

Stogsdill said some students had pedometers reading 4,000 to 5,000 steps per day.

A Student's pedometer used during the school day records that one students had taken 1,144 steps.

A Student's pedometer used during the school day records that one students had taken 1,144 steps.

"One of the teachers said a student got 10,000 steps today," she said.

Back in the gym, Madeline Chestnut and Katie Davis were taking their turn as the pit crew while two more members of their team, the Hearts, rolled around the cones making up the track.

The girls marked another tally on a sheet taped on the wall as their team rounded another lap.

"It's really fun," Madeline said.

"But it's really tiring," Katie added.

Comments

Ken Miller 8 years, 11 months ago

35 years ago, some of us did the same thing - except it was down schoool hallways while the rest of the kids were outside on the playground.

Good times. Good times.

compmd 8 years, 11 months ago

...ah, reminds me of the roller chair derby days...in learned hall. :)

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