This article originally appeared in the Mukilteo Beacon here.
The students at Columbia Elementary are the school district champions in a friendly competition this year called Gear Up & Go, a county-wide initiative to get students active.
A large number of fifth graders throughout Snohomish County have been wearing a device on their wrists that looks something like a watch with a milky-white band. The device, called a Sqord PowerPod, has been measuring the activity of the students as they run, jump and play games.
In weekly head-to-head competition between Mukilteo elementary schools during the past eight weeks, Columbia swept the field with the highest percentage of students to sync their PowerPod, the highest average points earned during the week, and the greatest improvement in physical activity levels compared with the previous week.
Columbia was one of only two schools in Snohomish County to sweep all three categories within a school district and was the only school in the county to be undefeated in each of its eight match-ups with other schools.
Gear Up & Go was created by the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition to encourage healthy habits among fifth graers and to reverse a decline in healthy youth activity by coupling fitness with innovative technology that engages and entertains the students.
More than 95 percent of the elementary schools in Snohomish County are participating in the program.
Students wear the Sqord PowerPod like a wristwatch and, as the student moves, the pod translates that activity into digital points. The students can sync their PowerPods at their school, at any Snohomish County YMCA, or at other sites throughout the county.
With their points uploaded to Sqord’s online game platform, students can compare points and encourage their classmates with virtual High Fives.
Points are easy to earn. One step equals about three points, but there are any number of ways for a student to earn points. Doing the dishes or throwing a ball can earn points.
Students who earn 40,000 points per day are getting the recommended level of daily physical activity.
“The school match-ups provided PE and health teachers with the framework to motivate and energize their students,” said Scott Forslund, executive director of the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition. “What’s great about this is that we’re seeing variation in the numbers from district to district. Now we want to dive into the efforts behind those numbers to identify best practices.”
In winning the competition among Mukilteo elementary schools, an average of 71 percent of Columbia students synced their PowerPods. During the competition, they earned an average of 61,781 points per day, and had 49 students improve their points week over week.