By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

STOUGHTON (CBS) – Over the years traditional rows of desks and chairs in classrooms have disappeared.

Richard Gillespie goes to Dawe Elementary School in Stoughton and he’s a big fan of some new classroom equipment. “The ball chair is nice and soft – and the regular chair’s hard so I can’t pay attention to my work,” he says.

So is Dylan Duncan. He says, “It’s comfortable it takes stress away and it’s easier to work with.”

These Stoughton fifth graders are ‘on the ball’ in more ways than one.

“They’re really fun and bouncy,” Morgan Mooney adds. “They just kind of showed up in our classroom.”

These ergonomic ball chairs have started showing up in every Stoughton school as they have at Dawe Elementary.

Turns out changing the physical space in a classroom can be just as important as the lesson. Occupational therapy assistant Stephanie White says studies show it can help keep kids engaged.

“It does encourage the brain to be attentive and learning and interested in addition to the fact that it’s just fun to sit on a ball chair and so they’re excited for that,” White says.

The experiment was rolled out last school year with every first grader on a ball chair and, well, lesson learned.

“They’re not for all students,” fifth grade teacher Matthew Bell says.

Bell says the number of balls in classrooms was scaled back but he’s found kids are mentally alert when their bodies are alert.

He thinks they’ve been a good addition to his ever-changing classroom. “I think the kids have the same attention span as I do when I’m in a meeting so if you’re in a long meeting or you’re spending all day in a chair you need to get up and move,” Bell says.

Students definitely enjoy having them around.

Some experts believe when children are required to sit for too long in school it can affect their ability to learn and in some cases lead to an improper ADHD diagnosis. Mr. Bell says the ball chairs can re-energize their train of thought and energy level.

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Paula Ebben

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