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January 16, 2013

Health Literacy

Click It to Mix It

Invite your students to put on their food lab coat, get on their science goggles and watch food travel through their body. They can shake up test tubes to mix up tasty molecules, open wide to taste food science on their tongue … and experiment with their Fooditude!

According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, schools must move beyond a focus on basic competency in core subjects to promoting understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects. One of these themes is health literacy, which involves obtaining, interpreting and understanding basic health information and services, and using such information and services in ways that are health enhancing.

The sites linked below offer opportunities for integrating health literacy into your students' daily activities.

Start Mixing

Getting the most out of what you eat takes knowing what's in food. While packaged and prepared food can save time, a lot of chemistry is needed to keep those items edible on the long trip from the factory to the table. Do your students know what is actually in some of their favorite foods?

The Museum of Science + Industry Chicago has developed a game designed to promote awareness of the ingredients in common foods. Would You Eat That? presents a food and a list of ten ingredients that students might not expect to find in that food.

To play the game, students choose from a list of ingredients the four ingredients they think are in each food item—anything from Acesulfame K to Yellow #5. If students don't name all four on their first try, they'll get clues and more guesses … but unlike some of these foods, their chance to select the correct ingredients won't last forever!

Break It Down

What's your students' favorite packaged foods? Would they like someone to tell them in plain language just what's in it? Writer Patrick Di Justo has been doing just that for national publications, and now he's partnered with YOU! The Experience, the Museum of Science + Industry 's interactive website.

On YOU! The Experience, students can send an email telling what they love to eat: if their email is selected, the museum will parse their pantry, investigate the ingredients and verify their vittles.

Get Physical

Beginning in school year 2013–2014, the Presidential Physical Fitness Award will be replaced with the Presidential Youth Fitness Program (PYFP), a health-related, criterion-based assessment that is the result of a partnership among the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition; the Amateur Athletic Union; the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAHPERD); Cooper Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The emphasis of the new program will be on students' health, not on the previous measures of performance (ability to do push-ups and pull-ups and to run a mile). The new program will assess students' fitness using Cooper Institute's FITNESSGRAM, which measures five areas of health-related fitness: aerobic capacity, body composition, flexibility, muscle strength and muscular endurance. FITNESSGRAM's Healthy Fitness Zone standards represent the minimal levels of fitness needed for good health based on students' age and gender.

The success of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program depends on how schools are able to implement and utilize each of the program components. The PYFP website includes a section devoted to professional development, which offers a free monthly webinar series on youth fitness and health.

Keep Your Distance

Any track or running team, or even physical education class, can plan and map their runs through this site. Students simply enter an address, click Go to find their area and then start clicking on the map. If students create a running route ahead of time, the site will also tell them their mileage.

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