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Active Science at YMCA

March 07, 2013
An after-school program lead by faculty at Merrimack College that integrates physical activity and academic lessons in science and technology could have nationwide impact and become a model of innovation.

Active Science at the YMCA

            Dr. Kyle McInnis, chair of health sciences, has received a $97,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to use his “Active Science” curriculum and develop a social entrepreneurial business plan that creates sustainable solutions to the interrelated social challenges of reversing childhood obesity and promoting academic achievement among school-age children.

McInnis and Health Sciences Professor Kevin Finn will work with YMCAs and other youth-based community organizations across the country to explore scaling the program as part of a new social enterprise. McInnis will submit the plan in spring 2013 for consideration by the RWJF for a multi-million dollar Program Related Investment (PRI).

             The prototype research for this work is being conducted at the YMCA in Lawrence, where children ages 9-12 years participate in movement-based exploratory learning in afterschool programs. They perform fun fitness activities while wearing digital activity monitors such as pedometers, accelerometers and heart rate monitors to track their movements. The students upload data from their devices to an interactive website that tracks their progress and reinforces critical skills related to scienific inquiry.

            One of McInnis’ seven research assistants, Breanne Dowdie ’13, considers her experience in Active Science as vital to her education, saying “Gaining hands-on experience in real-life situations is crucial to my ongoing success in this very demanding field of work.”

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