This summer, as a result of collaboration between the Health and Wellness department of Danville Parks and Recreation and the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), local students from the sixth to eighth grades got a chance to participate in the Fitness/STEM-H camp. The camps were funded by a grant and therefore free to participants, making it more accessible to the local community. There were two sessions, one from June 24-28 and one from July 15-19. During these sessions, the students spent their mornings doing an exercise-based activity at various local recreational areas, including Dan Daniel Memorial Park, and their afternoons at the Institute doing several different health-based activities and experiments.
Over the four days, the students learned about a different area of the body and about different body systems, including the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems. They did this by watching an informative video and completing interactive worksheets to reinforce the information they had learned. For instance, after learning about traits, the students drew a face by flipping a coin to see what traits the face should have.
Students also spent a part of the day touring an area of the Institute such as the kitchens, the STEM lab, and on-site greenhouses in order to show the kids what the purpose of the Institute is, what types of research is happening at the Institute, and to show them that there are STEM careers available in southern Virginia. The students learned how to make a few different healthy snacks during their day as well, including “ants on a log”, which involves celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
The students ended their days with an experiment related to health and health systems. During these experiments, the students reinforced what they had done during the day by doing an activity or two related to it. For example, they made candy DNA strands on the day that they learned about DNA. Some of their other activities included dissolving egg shells in vinegar and making cells. They not only learned about human health, but animal health as well and how to compare the two through activities. One of these activities involved owl pellets, which they did on the day that they learned about the digestive system. They compared the digestive systems of humans and owls, and got the chance to see first-hand what owls can and cannot digest.
Maggie MacLeish, an undergraduate intern in the Advanced Learning department of the Institute, worked with the kids throughout the camp. She said that the camp was “a great opportunity for children in the Danville area to learn about their bodies and the importance of exercising and eating right. It gave the children a hands-on, fun learning experience that they cannot always get in school. I had just as much fun with the camp as the children who participated.”
These camps gave young students the opportunity to learn the scientific side of staying healthy, and the many ways that they can do so. They were very successful, and provided a healthy, informative week to the student’s summers. More information on this camp and others for local youth can be found at the Institute’s website, www.ialr.org.
Carlisle School, Martinsville, VA
Class of 2014
Institute Communications Intern
Come celebrate the holidays andshare in the true beauty of the season – helping those in need!
Decorating the Trees for a Cause is back at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) and this year it’s bigger and better than ever! This year’s program has more trees registered...