Positively Aging: Optimizing Mobility Across the Lifespan

Project Audience

Middle School Teachers and Students

Subjects Addressed

1. Scientific and mathematical concepts of forces and motion 2. The association between mobility obesity disease and disability across the life span 3. Activities that promote healthy nutritional and activity habits across the life span.

Project Website


Project Description

Our team worked with 19 school teachers to create teaching materials. The teachers began their fourth summer of work on our Academic Health Center campus on June 4 2007. These 19 teachers represent 14 schools and 8 school districts in Atascosa and Bexar Counties in South Central Texas. These schools are `majority minority- in that they are attended by students from minorities traditionally underrepresented in science (85% of students are Hispanic African American and American Indian). A majority of these students 69% are eligible for free and reduced lunch indicating that they are socio-economically disadvantaged. The three Specific Aims for the Positively Aging

Resources for Sharing

All the activities have been posted on our website (www.teachhealthk-12.uthscsa.edu). Examples of new units from this past year include: 1. Corpulosity: A Study of Obesity; 2. Discrepant Design: Levers in the Body; and 3. Mobility : Walk this Sway.

Dissemination Strategies

All classroom ready teaching materials are freely available for downloading from our website (www.teachhealthk-12.uthscsa.edu). In addition our team does workshops for teachers instructing them in using the teaching materials.


This SEPA application is a Phase I and II application to create evaluate and disseminate new teaching materials centered on the inter-related areas of mobility and obesity for the Positively Aging program. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Surgeon General’s Office have underscored the importance of physical activity and health maintenance across the life span. This application will utilize information from patient-oriented clinical research related to mobility and obesity as examples to create lessons and activities that effectively teach scientific and mathematical principles dealing with forces and motion at the middle school level. The Positively Aging program is an active ten-year innovative interdisciplinary partnership between the working scientists of the Aging Research and Education Center (AREC) of the UTHSCSA and middle school educators in San Antonio TX. The Positively Aging program has three long-term goals: 1. to provide innovative effective teaching materials that center on math and science curricular elements and are based on examples from the Gerontologic Sciences; 2. to help students learn to make critical life determining decisions for extending and enhancing their own lives; and 3. to help students develop a sensitivity to the needs and concerns of the aging population. For the present application we designed three specific aims to achieve these long-range goals: 1. To create new instructional materials focused on mobility and obesity that teach students: (A) Scientific and mathematical concepts of forces and motion; B) The associations between mobility obesity disease and disability across the life span; (C) Activities that promote healthy nutritional and activity habits across the life span. 2. To develop a cohesive set of quantitative evaluation strategies to determine whether the new Positively Aging instructional program improve: (A) Knowledge and skills specific to State of Texas and National Standards for math ad science curricular objectives; B) Knowledge specific to the associations between mobility obesity disease and disability; (C) Knowledge and skills regarding healthy nutrition and activity habits. 3. To disseminate the new materials through the Internet and teacher workshops.

Project Evaluation(s)

The focus of the 2006-2008 years was on collecting pre- and post-tests to assess changes in knowledge associated with using the new teaching materials. One example: The Levers in the Body tests showed a 16% increase from pre to post (51%-67% r2=.23 p<.01). At the beginning of the 2004-2005 school year we collected data from over 3000 middle school students regarding attitudes toward science using six published scales. We are empirically re-evaluating the psychometric properties of these instruments including the Draw a Scientist Test the Images of Scientists and Science Scale the Test of Science Related Attitudes the Women in Science Scale the Scientific Attitude Inventory and the Simpson Troost Attitude Questionnaire. Our preliminary analyses showed that factor structures did not match original authors' claims. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses two- and three-factor solutions were found for the WiSS ISSS and SAI instruments. Several items from these instruments that did not fit the factor structures were removed. These shortened instruments with improved psychometric properties should prove to be more feasible for researchers and administrators. Additionally our comprehensive review found that the majority of instruments have not undergone rigorous psychometric measures but are still being used for program evaluation. Further only a minimal theoretical basis or historical perspective is provided by researchers in defining 'attitude' (particularly 'science attitude') and why or how attitudes should be measured.