Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Port Discover Likes to “Move It…”

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

Port Discover Likes to “Move It...”

“We like to move it, move it” could be the theme song borrowed from Madagascar when the exhibit for Kinetic Kids is opens at Port Discover on March 26. The new program made possible by a grant from the University Health Systems Foundation and Albemarle Hospital Foundation will focus on keeping kids healthy by teaching them the importance of movement, nutrition, and portion control in the fight against obesity in the Albemarle area.

The word kinetic itself means “energy that comes from movement.” Kids are usually in a perpetual state of motion, and if that characteristic is channeled properly, the result will be a healthier adult. That thought is the premise on which the exhibit will be based. By raising awareness in kids, the statistic recently reported by the Albemarle Regional Health Services that heart disease, followed by cancer and respiratory disease, is the number one cause of death in the area could be changed. National attention has been focused on the obesity in kids problem by First Lady Michelle Obama and recent legislation aims at fixing its causes.

Science is something kids should do as well as study. Knowledge of facts is important, but a student can only fully understand the concepts after being engaged with the subject matter. That’s why recent studies that show that participation in science fairs has declined across the country are alarming. Educators point to the strong emphasis on the teaching of reading and math along with the increase in the varieties of extra-curricular activities as being the causes of the decline.

National test scores show the United States being in seventeenth place in its ranking in science proficiency which shocked many citizens. In his state of the union address President Obama called for a “sputnik moment” referring to the large emphasis placed on science and math education in the 50s and 60s after the USSR’s launched its sputnik satellite. Parents have recognized the opportunities that exist for their children who excel in the field of math and science and many of them try to foster a love of learning in those subjects.

Soon after I began working at Port Discover, I attended the Second Saturday program given by Dr. Maurice Crawford, the Marine Environmental Sciences Program Coordinator at ECSU. Children from age 5-12 eagerly squeezed bags of pretend critters in slimy goo and then dissected the contents of the pretend fish stomach and identified the organism that they found. It was hard to believe that they had left the comfort of their Saturday morning play to experience science first hand, but there they were with giggles and sheer enjoyment on their faces. Parents and grandparents cheered them on and delighted in their enthusiasm. Port Discover works to promote that excitement everyday with constantly changing exhibits and programs. They are doing their part to create a place where the kids truly are the scientists.

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