Perfect Partnership: Science Enriched Physical Education – Phase I
The long term objective of this research is to design and field test a science-enriched elementary PE curriculum to increase students’ knowledge and interest in health-related science. Minority students in urban public schools often do not acquire essential academic skills necessary to pursue science careers. Although interest in science may develop during adolescence by middle or high school many students are academically so deficient they are unable to master technical knowledge essential for success. Stimulating students’ interests in science reading and mathematics early in their schooling is critical to achievement. Many health-related scientific principles post relevant to young children involve concrete responses they can examine and understand. One salient set of principles explains the positive benefits of physical activity on health and well-being. Recent public health reports indicate that physical inactivity is a primary risk factor for coronary heart disease. PE can provide an exciting active laboratory to examine health-related science concepts and principles. Specific project objectives are: 1. To determine if a science-enriched curriculum taught in PE can increase 3rd 4th and 5th grade students’ knowledge of health-related science. Kinesiology or the scientific study of human movement is the disciplinary knowledge base for PE. PE programs reflecting a kinesiological focus communicate scientific knowledge about health-related benefits of physical activity to students. We hypothesize that kinesiological or science-enriched PE curricula can create an environment that increases students’ knowledge of the body systems’ responses to physical activity in a stimulating enjoyable and academically engaging atmosphere. 2. To determine if students’ interactions with scientists increase their understanding of scientist’s work the scientific inquiry process and their interest in science. While Objective #1 emphasizes the kinesiological knowledgebase that will make PE an extension of the science Classroom and a viable science partner Objective #2 examines the contributions that kinesiological scientists can make to students’ understanding of the scientific process and interest in science. We hypothesize that students’ interactions with distinguished NIH-funded scientists will contribute to a broader picture of the scientific enterprise and the value that students’ place on scientific knowledge. Scientists will visit elementary schools and participate with students in experiments as part of the problem-solving science-enriched PE curriculum. Students from three schools will be invited to the scientists’ laboratories to participate in meaningful experiments to enhance their understanding of scientists’ work the inquiry process and their interest in science.