After helping to lead Minnesota into online physical education courses almost 10 years ago, Minneapolis high schools are adding a wrinkle that automatically records a student’s physical activity.
Ten online PE students donned Movband step-tracking wristbands this fall in a pilot test aimed at automatic recording of their activity. When the second semester begins this month, at least 200 are expected to wear the $35 bands to make sure they meet the course’s requirement for physical movement.
Students who demoed the bands like that they download data as a substitute for having to do the online course's required computer logging of physical exercise.
“It’s a heckuva lot easier than entering [data] in every single day and hoping that they qualify,” said Washburn junior Noah Solfest.
To qualify their day’s activity, students must do at least 15,000 recorded moves (up from 12,000 in the pilot period) in a day, the equivalent of more than half an hour of activity; 30 such days are required per quarter.
The advantage for a student like Solfest is that activities ranging from pickup football to shoveling snow to participating in rehearsals for the school musical can add to his moves.
For example, shoveling snow at home after a heavy snowfall can lead to as many as 6,000 moves, Solfest said.
The bands can also modify behavior. Some days, for example, Solfest has walked the two miles home from Washburn to his Northrop neighborhood home to top off his activity quota.
Online physical education includes a combination of computer-based study of healthy habits and exercise. It allowed Solfest to preserve time in his school calendar to take French and another elective.
With Minneapolis students typically having just two periods a day open for elective classes, which often are consumed by a foreign language and a music ensemble, fitting in the district’s physical education and health requirements can be a challenge. That’s one reason that a number of districts across Minnesota have piggybacked on the Minneapolis district’s entry into online physical education in 2005. Goodrich said state education officials have told him that tens of thousands of students across the state to date have taken online gym using the Minneapolis approach.
Nicola Lowry, a Southwest sophomore, took her health class in a classroom but opted for online physical education to preserve time for electives like wind ensemble, where she plays clarinet, and also painting during her freshman year.
She likes the Movband, which she prefers to wear on her ankle, because it lessens the need to log activities on a computer.
Lowry finds that her typical activities record between 6,000 and 10,000 moves a day, depending on how much she’s walking. So she sometimes adds activities to hit her 12,000-move threshold. “If I see that I’m close, I’ll do something like walk a little extra,” she said. She was able to use the device to record hiking and cross-country skiing on the North Shore recently.
Frank Goodrich, a district physical education teacher who works with online students, said the wristbands are another way to integrate technology many students already use. He said the district hopes to add a Facebook site
A diversion pipe is being installed this week to route water being pumped into of the Calhoun-Isles lagoon, marking the second straight year that step has been taken to protect the lagoon's ice..
Minneapolis public works officials will contract for a 12-inch PVC pipe to be laid to divert water being pumped into the lagoon from an upscale apartment building t 1800 W. Lake St. The city recently sued the building's owner over the discharge of groundwater from the apartment site into a storm sewer entering the lagoon. The city argued that pumping was only temporarily permitted during the building's construction in 2011.
The diversion is an attempt to keep lagoon ice intact, according to Justin Long, an assistant parks superintendent. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced the diversion project on Wednesday but said the city is handling the contracting. It said the work will be completed by Jan. 16, and remain for about eight weeks.
The diversion project will cost about $45,000, according to the city, and extend for almost one-quarter mile.
Long said the diversion of water will follow a different route to Lake Calhoun this year. Last year, the pipe generally followed the east retaining wall of the lagoon before crossing near Lake Street to the north retaining wall of Calhoun, where it was discharged along the north shoreline. The plan this year is to route the pipe across the lagoon to its west retaining wall and follow that to the lake's north retaining wall. That will keep the pipe in a shadier spot during daily peak temperatures.
Last year, the pipe laid on the ice and the 55-degree temperature of the water it carried melted the pipe into the ice. This year, the pipe will be raised a few inches atop spacers to prevent that, Long said.
The main issue with warm water entering the lagoon is that softer ice endangers skaters and skiers, according to the city's lawsuit. It sued to end the discharge and to recover costs of dealing with the issue, including installing the winter piping.
Long said that park officials conferred with representatives of the City of Lake Loppet ski festival about how to include a ramp over the pipe for skiers for event races that use the lagoon and adjoining lakes.
(Photo above: Chace Russell won a heat during ice-biking races held on the lagoon during the City of Lakes Loppet weekend.)
Three days after sustaining what was described as a major heart attack, ex-mayor R.T. Rybak left Abbott Northwestern Hospital on Tuesday to recuperate.
Former aide Andy Holmaas released a statement Tuesday afternoon that said that Rybak will recuperate for "the next couple of weeks" after his release. He will then begin working at his new job as executive director of Generation Next, an fledging organization focused on closing the achievement gap in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools.
Holmaas said that doctors have performed two angioplasties and inserted six stents since Rybak entered the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains while cross-country skiing at Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley.
Megan O'Hara, Rybak's wife, said in a voice message Monday that Rybak will bypass his typical skate-ski long race in the City of Lakes Loppet ski race this year. But she added that he hopes to participate in the weekend's more sedate luminary loppet ski tour on Feb. 1, the night before the marquee 42-kilometer race. Rybak helped to found the ski festival as part of a silent sports series and serves on the loppet foundation board.
"The family is hoping others will learn from this experience making sure that everyone in their family is aware of their medical health history," Holmaas said in an e-mailed statement.
An angioplasty involves inserting a thin tube with a balloon through the blood stream and then inflating the balloon to reopen an artery closed or blocked by a buildup of plaque, and restore blood flow to the heart. A stent is a small tube that is inserted to buttress the inner wall of an artery.
(Photo above: Rybak skis in 2005 at City of Lakes Loppet events. Staff photo by Duane Braley0
The city this week sued to block the owner of a controversial upscale apartment building in Uptown from pumping groundwater through the city sewer and into a nearby lagoon that's part of the Chain of Lakes, saying that makes ice unsafe.
The city asked Hennepin County District Court to declare illegal and bar the pumping of groundwater from the lower level of the upscale building's underground parking into the city's sewer, which enters the lagoon. The city also asked for a penalty of $1,000 per day for allegedly violating the city's storm drain ordinance, and other unspecified damages.
The 56-unit apartment building opened two years ago at 1800 W. Lake St., a location that some residents regard as the western gateway to Uptown. The proposal stirred debate in 2009 over the appropriate height for buildings near lakes Calhoun and Isles under a land use plan adopted in 2008, after construction of a taller building across the street.
Developer Daniel Oberpriller said development firm Lake and Knox LLC is trying to figure out the right thing to do, but referred comment on the lawsuit to the firm's attorney.
Lake and Knox LLC obtained temporary state and city permits that allowed it to pump enough water to build the building's foundation several feet below the surrounding water table, according to the city lawsuit. But its application to the state said the temporary dewatering would end after 90 days, and the city permit was timed for the same period.
The city alleges that pumping to drain groundwater from the completed apartment building has continued at a rate of at least 240,000 gallons per day. That's impairing the lagoon, the city alleges, by causing thin ice and open water that imperils cross-country skiers and other lake users, while marring the scenic view. The city also alleges that the pumping uses sewer capacity that's needed for rain and snowmelt, and interferes with the operation and maintenance of a city grit chamber that's designed to reduce sediment flowing into the lake.
Ironically, the building's profile was lowered, pushing its garages deeper, in order to accommodate neighborhood objections. One sign of the intensity of the debate was that four adjoining neighborhoods took the unprecedented step of jointly appealing to the City Council the Planning Commission's approval of variances and other approvals the project needed. That appeal failed.
The rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the building ranges from $1,500 to $1,800 monthly, and a two-bedroom unit costs from $2,200 to $2,900 monthly.
That Dinkytown bike-ped bypass that MPLS told you about last week is now open for wheeled and foot traffic.
You can catch the new route either at the east end of Bridge 9 just off the Mississippi River, or just off the intersection of Oak and 5th Streets SE. That's not far from the west end of the existing University Transitway.
Of course a new bike trail wouldn't be official without a few politicians proving they can ride bikes. So if you want to join them for the ceremonial opening, they're meeting at noon Sunday on the mall of the University of Minnesota's St. Paul campus. Meet at the corner of Carter and Eckles avenues. That's near the Transitway's east end. Other stops along the way are at 12:20 p.m. at Malcolm Avenue and 5th Street SE in Minneapolis, and at 12:45 p.m. at Oak and 5th.
If you don't like crowds, the new trail is lit so you can ride or walk it any hour.
The city is calling the new route the Dinkytown Greenway, but be forwarned that there's been no special planting along the route so far. There are some scrub trees along the path, but mostly it features views of parked railcars and idle tracks.
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