Gentry Middle School seventh-graders drew on the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center’s resources to think outside of the classroom Monday in preparation for their multimedia projects and writing assignments.
Center health educators Maggie Simmons, Sharie Hall and Donna Parks set up stations for the students including examples of tobacco and alcohol’s effects on the body’s systems as well as a truly hands-on experiment where students learned the proper way to wash their hands and the results of eating unhealthy food.
“It’s a great way to go outside of the classroom,” commented Gentry seventh-grade science teacher Jamie Mosley. “We are tapping into the resources Surry County has to offer for our students. They cover a lot but learning the body’s system this way makes it come alive. They make a connection and it really works.”
Mosley explained one of the county’s required curriculum components is that students must write a paper and produce a multimedia project. The school’s seventh-grade teachers have pooled their efforts to show the interconnection of math and language arts to science. Students will get information from a variety of sources to first write research papers. They next produce a short film which also will satisfy requirements for seventh-graders to become comfortable with technology.
The first learning station for the students used two inflatable lungs to demonstrate how smoking damages the tissues of those organs. Students also could learn about dangers of prescription drugs and see how respiratory, nervous and cardiovascular systems are affected.
Mosley said the second learning station allowed students to discover how much fat is in hot dogs, chips and foods commonly eaten by teenagers so students could make different choices about their diet.
The third learning station used special chemicals to show students the importance of properly washing hands. After washing, students placed their hands under a black light which showed areas they missed which would contain germs.
Nutrition center educator Sharie Hall told the students using warm water and soap was better than hand sanitizer and backed that up with the black light test. She told them to wash their hands for 20 seconds including the backs of their hands, fingernails and in between fingers. Hall also talked with the students about how hand washing directly affected their immune systems.
Mosley said students had to first choose a system of the body to write about because this makes a personal connection for them. She characterized the project as an integrated activity. The social studies classes included information on the black plague and math classes used statistics and body mass index calculations to show how skills in each area of study complemented the others.
“Everyone becomes engaged through this process. You see active learning taking place. That is key,” said Mosley. “This is not the traditional way of approaching a seventh-grade focus on the human body as part of the curriculum. It takes teamwork from both staff and students and that is also exciting. It’s awesome as the seventh grade as a whole is a team. Everybody does their part and the kids love it.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.