Kindergartners discover healthy eating

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — Science and service are combining this week as students learn about nutrition.
All 483 Kannapolis City Schools kindergartners are taking a field trip to the UNC Nutrition Research Institute at the N.C. Research Campus to participate in the third annual science fair
This year’s event, themed “Food: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” focuses on encouraging positive eating habits.
As students arrive at the campus, scientist Dr. Martin Kohlmeier gives a presentation titled “Eat a Rainbow.”
He introduces them to terms such as lycopene and beta-carotene, explaining what kinds of fruits and vegetables contain the nutrients.
“Eat the Rainbow” encourages children to eat a variety of different colored fruits and veggies.
“What happens when you eat a rainbow?” he said. “You grow strong, healthy and smart.
“Look at your plate. If you’re getting all of these colors, you know you’re eating well. Try to get as many colors on your plate as possible.”
After Kohlmeier’s presentation, students were split into eight groups to visit stations throughout the building.
The stations, created and staffed by students from A.L Brown High School’s early childhood education class, provide hands-on activities.
One station allowed students to dig through dirt to find vegetables that grow in a garden.
Another allowed students to taste-test an Apple Ugly pastry and slice of ugly fruit.
The “Inside and Out” station, manned by junior Anna Duplisea and senior Kiara Holbrooks, gave students an idea of what fruit and veggies look like on the inside.
The girls passed around onions, tomatoes, pineapples and avocados for students to touch and smell.
Senior Hannah Carr worked with students at the “Coloring Food Groups” station, passing out crayons and handouts for students to color.
She helped identify the food in the pictures and the right color for each one.
“I think it’s really cool that the kids get to go to different stations to learn about making good food choices,” she said.
Junior Monica Barrera and senior Keosha Hunter taught children the identify different foods and their nutrition content.
Students had to throw different foods in boxes labeled healthy and unhealthy.
Hunter said not only did the kids discover the differences, so did she.
“I’ve really learned a lot of things I didn’t know,” she said.
Leanne Kluttz, a kindergarten teacher at Woodrow Wilson Elementary, said the experience has kept her students engaged.
“They learn a lot of this in the classroom, but to be able to taste, touch and smell healthy and unhealthy foods creates a real world experience,” she said.
Students teaching students
Anne Parker, the school system’s curriculum and instruction coach, said this is the first time A.L. Brown’s early childhood class has been involved with the field trip.
In previous years, high school science students helped out.
“High school students have done a great job facilitating the activities,” Parker said.
Ashley Mason, the high school’s early childhood teacher, said her students were excited to have the opportunity to show off what they’ve learned in class and through their internships with Head Start.
“They did a little research and used the things they’ve seen at Head Start to come up with games that they thought would be developmentally appropriate for that age,” she said.
Mason said she hopes the group of 16 juniors and seniors also gain a sense of stewardship.
“I want them to see how important community service is,” she said. “This has been a good thing for us in terms of being able to partner with the Research Campus.”
How it all started
Beverly Jordan, director of community outreach or the UNC Nutrition Research Institute, said the idea for the science fair came from the school district.
Jordan said Parker and A.L. Brown science teacher Scott Rodger approached her.
“They said, ‘We want to do something in your building to get kids excited about science. Will you help?’ ” Jordan said. “We said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”
Jordan said the field trip has evolved over the years from an event where students bring their own science projects to a more hands-on experience.
“We decided we could bring a little bit more to the table by inviting our researchers to do lectures,” she said.
Parker said the community has also chipped in, with Harris Teeter and Lowe’s Food donating the food used during the field trip this year.
She said the focus on health, food, teeth and hygiene promotes “healthy hearts that will create healthy minds.”
Jordan said she hopes students walk away from the experience remembering not only the lessons, but the fun.
“I think this is a well-rounded event for the kids,” she said. “I think they have a lot of fun and, hopefully, get some idea of what we do here.”
Jordan said she’s looking forward to fostering more partnerships with the schools.
“We are really proud to be here and we want to interact with the schools to do great things like this,” she said. “We’re also trying to inspire the next generation of scientists.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.