Meridian kids to get a brain workout

Students can perform better if they train their brains, says Mary Helen Green, a counselor at Meridian Technical Charter High School.

She has been given the opportunity to test her idea this school year as a state tech pilot grant recipient.

The State Department of Education handed out $3 million to 15 schools, selected by a team of judges looking for innovative ideas that can be tested and tracked, and perhaps replicated in other schools. (Click here for a list of all the winners and their ideas).

Green’s winning idea earned her the smallest state grant, $14,835, but her idea is distinctive. She wants to strengthen brains, just like a football player lifts weights to strengthen muscles.

Studies show training the brain lessens anxiety and improves concentration,” Green said.

She used her money to buy 25 iPads and memberships to Lumosity.com, an online brain-training program consisting of more than 40 games designed to improve memory, attention, processing speed and problem-solving.

“My goals are to improve the number of classes students pass and improve attendance,” Green said. “We also can use it to calm them down during the school day.”

The online product was founded in 2005 by Michael Scanlon, a Stanford University neuroscientist.

Lumosity.com claims to have nearly 50 million users, including young learners, cancer survivors, aging adults and children with autism and people with attention deficit disorders.

The focus at Meridian Technical Charter is technology. The 205 students are already attracted to using computers, and all have laptops.

The students could use Lumosity.com on those laptops, Green wants to use the iPads to separate school work from the brain-training exercises. Students who start to fall behind because they are having trouble concentrating can check out an iPad and do brain strength-training drills before or after school.

Meridian Technical Charter’s media arts teacher Lee Eyerman used Lumosity.com all summer.

“It was very, very cool,” Eyerman said. “I started out as basically an idiot but became 83 percent proficient in most everything. It’s an interesting approach to improving a person’s abilities. We’ll see how it works with the students.”

As school gets started, Green is beginning to identify students who could benefit from the brain training, and is starting to contact their parents. For most, Lumosity.com is a new tool.

“We have a variety of issues with a variety of kids with different struggles and their struggles keep them from obtaining graduation requirements,” Green said. “For example, a child may have anxiety attacks so they can’t stay on track to complete the required work. We’re hoping this will help.”

Lumosity.com will graph and chart a student’s training and Green will collect results on a weekly basis. She also will keep track of attendance and grades on a semester basis.

“Studies show this has been successful around the nation and around the world,” Green said.

Click here to read about the future of Idaho’s tech pilot program.

 

 

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