Integration of physical activity and technology motion devices within a combined 5th and 6th grade science curriculum
Finn, Kevin Eugene
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Background: National recommendations to increase school-based physical activity and promote academic success advise incorporating movement into traditional classroom lessons. Classroom-based physical activities have favorable associations with indicators of cognitive functioning, academic behaviors, and academic achievement. Purpose: This study analyzed the Active Science framework, which incorporated school-based physical activity within interactive science classroom lessons. Specifically, the study measured the effects of the Active Science framework on student physical activity levels in the classroom, student learning of science inquiry skills and content knowledge, and student perceptions of physical activity and science. A secondary purpose was to evaluate the teachers' perceptions on the implementation of the framework. Subjects: Participants were 37 Hispanic girls (age=11.1 ±0.8 yr) in mixed 5th/6th grade science classes in a private, urban middle school. Methods: Physical activity levels of the students during the Active Science framework were measured using pedometers and heart rate monitors. Pre- and post-tests were used to assess the levels of learning achieved by the students in science inquiry skills and content during the Active Science framework. Student perceptions and attitudes toward science and physical activity were measured during student focus groups and pre-post perception surveys. Lesson plan evaluations completed by the teachers and structured interviews provided data on implementation of the framework. Results: Physical activity results showed heart rate (146 ±9 bpm); maximal heart rate (196 ±10.6 bpm); time (35 ±2.5 mins); steps (3050 ±402.7); calories (99 ±8.4 kcal); and distance (1.1 ±0.2 miles) while performing the activity portion of the science lessons were consistent with national recommendations for accumulating school-based physical activity. Significant increases in science content and skills test scores with a 22.4% increase (43.9% to 66.3%; p<0.05) from pre to post (p<0.05). Students enjoyed the integration of physical activity into science lessons and the teachers described the positive effect of the framework on student interest/engagement. Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that the Active Science framework helped to promote physical activity, facilitate student learning of science inquiry skills and content knowledge and excite students about integrating physical activity into science lessons.
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