Clothing/Equipment

Pottstown High School students use standing desks to improve classroom engagement

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Pottstown High School students stand or sit at height-adjustable desks the school won through a Let’s Move! Active Schools essay contest. Local health representatives got to see the desks in action during an active classroom demonstration. Submitted Photo — Bob Hill of Ergotron

By Michael Sneff, msneff@pottsmerc.com

Pottstown High School students showed how standing instead of sitting can make all the difference when it comes to education during an active classroom demonstration.

Representatives of the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation and the Montgomery County Health Department got an inside look at how height-adjustable desks are being used at the school. Last month, the local health representatives along with wellness professionals of the school district visited a math class that has been using sit-stand desks since February.

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A Pottstown High School math class uses height-adjustable desks which can be moved into either a sitting or standing position. A group of health representatives visited the class for an active classroom demonstration. Submitted Photo — Bob Hill of Ergotron

Ergotron, a Minnesota-based company, makes the mobile desks to encourage an active classroom. Students can transform their learning experience simply by squeezing a hand lever on the adjustable desks to change the height into a sitting or standing position, according to the description on the product website www.ergotron.com.

Ergotron held a Let’s Move! Active Schools essay contest earlier this year and as the winner, Pottstown High School received a classroom set of LearnFit Adjustable Standing Desks. David Genova, wellness coordinator for the district and the person who wrote the award-winning essay, said the decision to push for more non-traditional ways of learning was simple.

“It’s been a challenge for teachers since the technology for them has evolved with things like electronic boards and computers, but the classroom has not evolved alongside it. The system has been rows of desks that don’t move for the last 100 years,” Genova said.

Desiree Borusiewicz, a health and physical education teacher at the high school, said it can be more difficult for students to pay attention when they aren’t able to move around while learning.

“Throughout a child’s time in primary school, they’re taught and expected to sit still all day, every day. But it’s much more likely for a student to zone out when they’re just sitting there. When they’re active in the classroom, they’ll be more active learners,” she said.

Bob Hill, education manager for Ergotron, said students that use standing desks in the classroom burn more calories and have a higher heart rate which means the students will be more involved in the learning process.

“I actually do like them a lot,” said Isiah Oberg, a 10th grader in Jolie Martinez’s math class at the high school. “The stools we sit in are a little uncomfortable but I guess the point is to get us to stand, isn’t it?”

The active schools essay contest gave the high school their first set of height-adjustable desks but students have been using standing desks for some time. The high’s school’s construction technology program built 36 standing desks a couple years ago and Genova said the teachers loved them.

“There were too many teachers asking for desks that we just didn’t have. It was a good problem to have,” Genova said adding that the essay contest was the perfect opportunity to expand upon the idea.

The sit-stand desk approach is not necessarily just for students, said Betsey Banker, vertical marketing manager for Ergotron.

“While most of the research we’re doing is going into the education side of things, some of the research we’re doing now is proving that this works for people of all ages,” Banker said adding that more than 90 percent of the desks in the Ergotron offices are standing ones.

Hill said Ergotron’s mission is to have an emphasis on “whole body education.” Ergotron isn’t the only company to make this move. About 33 percent of companies in the country have standing desks in some capacity, according to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study found at www.shrm.org.

“I think organizations and schools alike are starting to see the benefits of these desks.” Banker said.

Hill said having a more active classroom experience can improve general academic performance.

“Our whole aim is to provide a low-level physical activity focus into the classroom, to really make sure that the kids are actually engaged in what they’re learning,” Hill said.

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