CLAREMORE, Okla. -- A pair of inventive teachers have become Internet sensations for a helpful classroom creation.
Deanna Smith and Marsha Kendrick, who both teach at Stuart Roosa Elementary in Claremore, made swinging footrests called "busy bars" that they attach to their students' desks. The busy bars, they say, help students stay active and alert even when they're seated.
After 2 Works for You aired a story about their invention, the teachers received hundreds of requests for busy bars from teachers and parents all across the world.
"It's just overwhelming," Kendrick said about the response. "It's dizzying just thinking about all the places that this has gone to, and so quickly."
A post promoting the story has reached more than 2 million people on Facebook alone. Kendrick and Smith are now using a map to track all the places where people are commenting on or sharing the story on social media.
"We have all but five of the United States," Kendrick said with a smile. "We also have Australia, South Korea, Ireland, South Africa and Canada."
Despite coming up with a potentially lucrative idea, the teachers decided against turning the busy bars into a business venture. Smith said they did not create them to make money.
"It came about because we're here to help kids," Smith said, "and that's why we're doing it."
"If we sold them," Kendrick added, "it would not get to the children who need it. All the supplies that you need can be bought at any local hardware store. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to put it together, and there's no reason to sell it when anybody can do it. I would not feel right if we sold it."
Kendrick said she felt even more compelled not to charge people for the busy bars after receiving a message from a woman in Ireland.
"She has a son who is autistic and another who has ADHD, and she's having trouble finding ways for them to sit in their classrooms," Kendrick said. "She was so excited about finding this and how easy it was. She asked me if I'd send her one. I said no, I'm going to tell you how to make it yourself."
The two teachers are now putting together a video tutorial to show people what supplies they need and the steps they should follow to make busy bars on their own.
"It just goes to show you how much kids need to move to learn, and that's where my passion is," Smith said. "If we can get more kids moving, the better learners they'll be."
The teachers received additional funding from the special education director at Claremore Public Schools so that they could make enough busy bars for every school within the district.
Smith said the Oklahoma Department of Education also contacted her to inquire about the busy bars.
"They want to put it in their newsletter," she said. "They want the specifications so that they can send it to every teacher in the state."
The teachers plan to release their tutorial on the busy bars on YouTube within the next few days.
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