Middle School Epidemiology Students Learn about Health at Montclair State

Members of the School 9 Edipemiology club learn about portion control while serving food.

For the students of the after-school Epidemiology Club at Charles J. Reilly Middle School (School 9) in Paterson, the visit to Montclair State University on May 24 was a highlight of their year. The students took part in activities at a workshop led by Montclair State students and faculty exploring physical activity and diet.

Organized by Mark Kaelin, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, and School 9 science teachers and Epidemiology Club advisors, Lynn Tarant and Jeanne Murgolo, the workshop was designed to teach the students ways by which physical activity and the nutritional value of food are measured and how they relate to their health.

The students first donned chef’s hats and worked in a nutrition lab with health and nutrition sciences’ Charles Feldman to prepare food and analyze its nutritional content. Then, moving to the exercise physiology lab, the students worked with Michele Fisher and Robert Horn, Department of Exercise Science and Physical Education, to perform measurements of body composition. They also used heart monitors to calculate their target heart rate for exercise and learned how to achieve that rate on exercise bikes. At a separate location, they performed exercises to test reaction time and strength.

“This program is a way of using health investigations to reinforce the math and science concepts these students are learning in their classes. It also gets children to start thinking about their own health at an early age,” said Kaelin. “The plan is to have these middle school students explore—with the elementary school students back at School 9—their patterns of physical activity and diet and its importance to their health.”