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Queen of Angels students experience benefits of exercise, proper nutrition

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 1:32 a.m.
University of Pittsburgh's mobile science lab science education facilitator Tim McMurray demonstrates exercises with Queen of Angels Catholic School fourth-graders Sebastian Kline, gray sweatshirt, and Zach Dlugos. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
University of Pittsburgh's mobile science lab educator Barbara Paul shows Queen of Angels Catholic School fourth-graders Kendall Ruffner and Angelena Rico how to convert steps from a pedometer Friday. Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News

Queen of Angels Catholic School students received a hands-on learning experience about physical fitness and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh on Friday.

Students witnessed a presentation inside a mobile lab from Pitt's Clinical Translational Science Institute outside the North Huntingdon Township school, and participated in various exercises.

“We're more concerned about them gaining an understanding on how exercise is good for their health,” mobile lab science education facilitator Tim McMurray said. “Not just on the muscular level; we want them to understand the health benefits of it when it comes to skeletal muscles, cardiac muscles, and smooth muscles and how it can help with things like digestion and stuff like that.”

Students in fourth through eighth grades participated in one-hour sessions.

McMurray and other staffers talked about how exercise impacts the brain and how it teaches cognitive alertness, as well as burns calories and affects heart rates.

“We give them a pedometer, a little thing that tells you how many steps you take, so we have a calculation,” McMurray said. “It's good for this age group ... They're all different. We just try and give them the impression that they should be getting exercise and they should be eating properly. These kids are great because they're actually involved in a lot of sports. They're all pretty active. They're all pretty alert.”

Fourth-graders Angelena Rico and Kendall Ruffner, 9, said they learned a lot about nutrition and liked running around.

“If you eat too much calories it isn't good for you because it makes you have too much fat on your body,” Angelena said. “That isn't very good for you so you have to stay active.”

“I learned that when you exercise it's better for your body,” Kendall said. “If you don't exercise, you can get overweight and you're not healthy and you don't want to have that happen to you.”

“Always try to be active,” fourth-grader Zach Dlugos said. “It's fun to be active and you always have something to do. We threw the football around. That was probably the best part.”

Fourth-grader Sebastian Kline said he learned the importance of going outside more instead of playing video games, and wants to see more activities like the one on Friday.

The mobile lab visit was organized by sixth- and seventh-grade science teacher Julie Jonczak, who saw it at one of the university's football games.

Jonczak said it's important for students to learn about physical fitness at a young age.

“By the time they're older, it's in their brain,” Jonczak said. “In fifth grade we already did the body (lessons) at the beginning of the year.

Middle school is doing the body now in wellness class. It's like a health class ... They really enjoy the hands-on activity and see how it works in real life, not just something they read in a book. We'll have worksheets and next week we'll talk about what they did, why they did it and what it means to them.”

More information about the mobile lab is available online at www.mobilelab.pitt.edu.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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