AU students build iPad app to teach healthy habits - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

AU students build iPad app to teach healthy habits

AUBURN, AL (WSFA) -

The fight against childhood obesity in Alabama starts in the classroom, and two Auburn University students are making nutrition fun for kids.

Doctoral students Jonathan Lartigue and Russell Thackston have built an iPad app called Body Quest that uses virtual interactive games to teach kids healthy habits.

The Body Quest program is the brain child of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Department of Human Resources.  It started out as a card game, but they approached the students about developing a more technology driven program.

"Grabbing the attention of an elementary school kids is not easy.  But to them, an iPad is fun and cool.  So by taking these lessons and putting them on an iPad, it gets the information to them in a fun and more effective way," said Lartigue.

Lartigue and Thackston used their background in Software Engineering to build the app.  The games take kids on a Body Quest journey, teaching them how to make healthy food choices. They learn which foods are good for them and which aren't through a series of six lessons, featuring characters like Muscle Man and Trans Fat Cat.  

"You give a group of elementary school kids an iPad, and their eyes light up," said Lartigue.  "It's so rewarding to be able to see kids using something that you built and having fun.  Not only that, they are learning something as well."

Right now about 2,000 students in rural Alabama are using the app.  It is the first of its type to be used by any state's extension office.

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