LOWELL | New technology and a new class at Lowell High School are fueling interest in fitness.
Students in Annette Weiand's fitness and nutrition class, in its first year and open to all but freshmen, have been wearing Nike Fuel Bands to track energy expended for various activities.
"How do you tell as a physical education teacher if someone's working hard or not?" Weiand asked.
Lowell High School students have been provided with individual laptops, so the Nike Fuel Bands, which plug into them for easy downloads, were a logical choice, she said. She wrote a grant application and received $2,384 from the Tri-Creek Education Foundation to buy the bands.
During a recent class where students shared a nutritious lunch, they talked about the bands they wear 24 hours a day.
"I was surprised the school got them for our class," said Angelica Contreras, 17.
Malena Hernandez, 17, said she enjoys tracking the number of steps she takes daily.
"I think they're really cool," she said.
Jordan Hansen, 17, said, "It's awesome. It lets us know how active we are. ... And, we always have competitions."
Weiand said the bands measure energy output in fuel points, which are the same for everyone. Students set fuel points goals, and there is a weekly competition to see who earns the most in that time.
Weiand said the fuel bands tell students how many calories they are burning daily and how many steps they take. Each student's goal is to take more than 10,000 steps a day.
After their fuel band data is downloaded into their computers, Weiand is able, as their teacher, to see how each student is doing. They also can "friend" each other to see how others are doing.
"I like it that you're able to see your progress," said Sebastian Zagarena, 17.
Weiand said students track their nutrition in class through www.choosemyplate.gov, so they see how many calories are going in daily.
"The fuel band gives them a better feel of how many calories are going out each day," she said.
Weiand said the fitness and nutrition offering will be expanded to two classes next school year.
"The class is aimed at teaching students how to take care of their nutritional and exercise needs as they move on to college and become more responsible for their own health," Weiand said. "I tell them, 'Someday, someone's not always going to be there to tell you to get up off your butt,'" she said.