by Mike Knaak
In a school full of innovative education transformations, none is more dazzling than Riverview Intermediate’s Pier.
What was once the old middle school’s swimming pool is now a new space for a wide range of fitness activities for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders.
The room’s centerpiece is a giant video interactive playground projected on an entire wall.
Instructors cue up a range of interactive exercises from throwing at a target to dance and exercise.
“Students don’t even know they are exercising,” teacher Rachel Breitkreutz said. “People find exercising boring. This is a way to get them moving.”
The motion sensing wall was made possible by a grant from the Sartell-St. Stephen Education Foundation.
The installation was part of the school’s larger effort to reimagine education for intermediate school students. Before the former middle school (which was also the district’s original high school) was remodeled. Teachers researched options for new learning and that led to the motion wall as well as the school’s STEAM (science, technology, arts and math) Lab, outdoor learning classrooms and media center. The Pier was chosen for the room’s name because it extends over what was water…the school’s swimming pool.
Sartell’s installation includes two motion-sensing projectors, so an entire wall is covered. There are only 11 such projectors installed in the nation, teacher Mitch Keeler said.
Early on a recent winter morning, students streamed into the room, and they warmed up in front of the motion wall projecting dance-like moves. Then students split into groups. While some students played a Hula Hoop game and others tackled the climbing wall, a third group headed to the motion wall to play a game challenging them to hit targets with a ball.
“Kids can’t wait to get back in here,” Keeler said.