The following Projects are an assortment of long-term activities that can be completed individually, in groups or as a class. We have provided starting points for research and development; you and the students can work together to create a more detailed plan of action. Consider the following two recommendations. First, because of the amount of work involved in a Project, students should choose one of great interest to them. Second, to encourage excellence and promote student-student learning, students should present their finished projects to the rest of the class, to the school and to the community, if appropriate.
Project 1: Research Questions and Action Projects
Project 1 differs from the others: it is a list of possible research topics organized according to some key ideas and addressed to students.
In assigning a Research Question or Action Project, we ask that you allow students to choose their topic—either one provided or one of their own. You might also:
- Specify length of piece.
- Make clear the purpose and the audience.
- Suggest sources and ideas for information.
- Provide in-class time for compiling information and writing.
- Require students to exchange papers and provide written feedback.
- Provide a breakdown of due-dates for the following stages: choice of topic, outline, rough draft and final draft.
- Permit students to supplement a written report with a skit, a piece of artwork, a piece of music, a dance, a Video, or a multimedia presentation.
Provide the students with evaluation criteria that include:
- accuracy of the content based on guiding questions.
- clarity of writing.
- effective organization of main ideas.
- use of detailed examples or citing evidence to support their conclusions.
Project 1: Teacher Activity Notes - Research Questions and Action Projects
Human Respiratory and Circulation Systems
1. How does a fetus receive oxygen and nutrients while in the uterus? What changes occur in the heart and lungs at birth? Why? How does premature birth affect the circulatory and respiratory systems? How is a baby's blood different from that of an adult?
Structure and Function of Blood, Heart, and Vessels
2. How is the human circulatory system different from other animals'? Choose two animals, one vertebrate and one invertebrate. Compare and contrast the circulatory system of each animal with the other and with the human circulatory system. Use the theory of evolution to help explain your findings.
3. How is human blood similar to and different from blood of other animals? Choose two other animals, one mammal and one nonmammalian species. Compare and contrast the physical and chemical properties of their blood with those of human blood. Use the theory of evolution to help explain your findings.
4. Scientists did not always know as much about the circulatory system as they do today. Choose a period in the past. Explain the following.
- How did scientists at that time explain the function of the circulatory system, the production of blood, and the function of the heart?
- What kinds of evidence did they use to support their claims?
Note: Limit your study to only one country or culture.
Integration within and between Systems
5. Use your knowledge of the circulatory system, respiratory system, and digestive system to explain how their functions are integrated.
6. Cholesterol level-What is a cholesterol level? How is it determined? What is a healthy level for adults? For adolescents? Why? How can your cholesterol level be raised or lowered?
7. Hypertension-What is hypertension? What causes it? What are its effects on the body? How is it prevented and treated? What can adolescents do to prevent the onset of hypertension later in life?
8. HIV-How is the circulatory system involved in the transmittal and spread of HIV? What are ways adolescents can help prevent the spread of HIV? What will you do to reduce your own risk of getting this virus?
9. Choose one of the following diseases: Leukemia-anemia-sickle-cell anemia. What is the disease? How does it affect the circulatory system and the body? How is this disease treated?
10. Blood donation-Why are blood donations needed? How safe is it to give or receive blood? Why must adolescents wait until they are 16 to give blood? How is the blood screened and stored? How is it used? Will you give blood when you're old enough? Explain.
Science, Technology, and Society
11. Besides school, what influences your attitudes and behaviors regarding health? Family, friends, the media, culture? What behaviors and attitudes regarding health have you adopted as a result of this influence? Why? How are your attitudes and behavior similar to and different from what you have learned in school?
12. Heart transplants-Why are heart transplants performed? How does the donor/recipient system work? Who gets a heart transplant? Is the system fair?
13. What is a recent innovation in the world of cardiovascular medicine? Describe where, when, how, and why it was developed.
14. Research the education/training required for these careers: dietitian, nutritionist, cardiologist, cardiovascular surgeon. What do these professionals do? What type(s) of technology do they use? Would you want to become one of them? Why or why not?
15. During the American Civil War, doctors and nurses treated many injured soldiers. What was their knowledge of the structure and function of the circulatory system? What kinds of surgical procedures and medicines did they use to treat gunshot wounds? Refer to the poems of Walt Whitman who was a nurse during the Civil War.
Project 2: Teacher Activity Notes - Be Heart Smart
Summary Students learn what it means to be “heart smart.” They distinguish between healthy and unhealthy behaviors, consider why it is important to practice healthy behaviors, and devise strategies to improve and maintain good cardiovascular health.
Scale, Yardstick, Stethoscopes, Sphygmomanometers, Charts of height and weight, Dietary tables, and Resource materials on cardiovascular health and fitness
Health, Social Studies, Physical Education
- One week for initial research and sharing of information
- One week for development of action plans
- Several class periods for students to prepare and present their projects
- Research presentation defining what it means to be heart smart
- Written action plans which identify and eliminate unhealthy behaviors
- Written report of completed action plan describing methods and results
1. Divide students into research groups of three to five students. Ask them to define what it means to be “heart smart.” Have them brainstorm a list of important factors related to heart disease and explain how these factors affect the circulatory system. Give them the option of consulting some or all of the following sources-textbooks, reference books, the Internet, CD-ROMs, a health professional, a representative of the American Heart Association, a coach, and/or a physical trainer. Provide students with additional sources of information on cardiovascular health and disease or with time to conduct their own research.
2. Using the information they have collected, have students assess their own health by answering the following questions.
- How healthy am I?
- Am I at risk for heart disease?
Students also may determine some or all of the following information about themselves.
Weight-height-pulse rate-blood pressure-cholesterol level-stress level-amount of fat and cholesterol in diet-amount of daily exercise-unhealthy habits.
Provide equipment to measure weight, blood pressure, and pulse rate. Provide charts to determine healthy ranges for weight versus height and amount of fat and cholesterol in foods. Many of the labs and activities under “Staying Healthy” can be modified for use here. Also arrange for students to have their cholesterol levels checked, if at all possible.
NOTE: You may choose to assign each student an ID number to be used when collecting personal health data. The ID number will allow students to examine and analyze data from the entire class while protecting students' privacy.
3. Ask each student to identify a personal behavior that is considered unhealthy. Individually or in groups, have them devise a plan of action for the next several weeks to eliminate or alter this unhealthy habit. During this period, allot time for students to describe in a daily journal what they did to change their behaviors.
4. After completing their respective action plans, have students reflect on changes in their lives. Do they feel differently? How have their attitudes changed? In their journals or in a written report, have students describe the unhealthy behavior, their plan of action, what they actually did or did not do, and their results so far.
They should be able to answer the following questions.
- Why is this targeted behavior believed to increase the risk of heart disease?
- What physical and/or psychological changes did you note while implementing your plan of action?
- Do you plan to continue being heart smart? Why or why not?
Suggested Follow-up Activities
- As a class, watch a film or video on heart disease-its causes, prevention, and treatment.
- If students are enthusiastic about the project and their results have them create an educational program or session to be taught to their schoolmates or families. The presentation should answer the following questions. What does it mean to be heart smart? Why is being heart smart important?
Note: Be sensitive to situations at home that may negatively impact on programs for parents or guardians.
- Arrange for students to visit a hospital, clinic, or research institution that specializes in the treatment and/or prevention of heart disease. Or ask a person from one of these organizations to come to speak to the class.
- At the end of the year, have students review their health habits. What habits have they been able to change? What habits have they been unable to change? Are they healthier and why or why not?
- At the completion of the project, students can follow up with a parent or guardian.
Use the students' products to assess if students can:
- define and describe the major risk factors for heart disease.
- describe how these risk factors are a result of specific behaviors and/or lifestyles.
- distinguish between healthy and unhealthy behaviors.
- present an organized action plan with realistic time lines for changing a personal unhealthy behavior.
- clearly express the methods they used and what they learned.
- organize and present data in a written format to the class in a meaningful way.
Project 3: Teacher Activity Notes - A Cafeteria Case Study
Summary Students conduct a case study of the school cafeteria, assessing how much fat and cholesterol are served on the daily menu and if the cafeteria promotes healthy eating habits. They make recommendations on how the cafeteria can become more health-conscious.
A nutritional table or Diet Analysis Plus® program, Version 3.0. You can obtain the Diet Analysis Plus program from ITP Distribution Center, 7625 Empire Drive, Florence, Kentucky, 41042, ATTN: Order Fulfillment. The telephone number is 1-800-824-5179. When ordering, indicate the following order number-for IBM WIN, ISB 0534538207 and for Macintosh, ISBN 0534538223.
Interdisciplinary Connection Health
- One class period for research on the fat and cholesterol content of the cafeteria menu
- At least two class periods for students to prepare and present their presentations
- Written assessment of cafeteria food
- Written report of the study's results and recommendations to the cafeteria staff
- Presentations of the assessment and recommendations
1. Before beginning this project, discuss it with the principal and the head of the cafeteria in order to ensure cooperation on their parts, as well as respect and consideration on the part of the class.
2. Ask the cafeteria supervisor for a printed menu of what is se1ved over the course of two weeks. Divide the class into teams of four or five. Have each team study one of the following.
- the kind and frequency of different types of foods served over those two weeks,
- descriptions of how meals were prepared,
- estimates of the amount of fat and cholesterol present in the foods served,
- the opinions of the cafeteria staff, and
- the cafeteria budget.
3. Allow each team an opportunity to present its findings orally to the rest of the class.
4. The class should then write a report to the head of the cafeteria listing any problems with the food se1ved and recommendations on how to make the meals healthier. Facts about heart disease and diet should be used to support any comments and suggestions.
Suggested Follow-up Activities
- A few months later ask students to repeat their analysis of the cafeteria's menu. How does it compare with their initial analysis? Has the cafeteria's menu improved sufficiently from a nutritional point of view? If not, why not? Is their analysis faulty in some way? Does the cafeteria lack the funds to provide healthier food? Are there federal or state laws controlling the cafeteria's choices? Have students' concerns or recommendations fallen on deaf ears?
- Ask students to assess what they learned in doing this project. Have them write about these experiences in a reflective paper.
- Ask the class to synthesize all that the groups learned in the form of an article. Submit this article to the school and/or local newspaper for publication.
- Have a professional nutritionist or nurse working with a cardiologist visit the class and discuss his or her job as it relates to cardiovascular health.
Use the students' products to assess if students can:
- identify the fat and cholesterol content of foods on a cafeteria's daily menu.
- make practical/reasonable recommendations for changing the menu based on cost and availability of specific foods.
- evaluate the impact of their recommendations for a) students, b) cafeteria staff, c) the budget manager, d) outside vendors, e) parents/guardians, and f) school staff.
- clearly express their assessment and recommendations to the class.
- make a convincing presentation using the facts.
- effectively answer questions from the class.
- use visuals to illustrate major points.
Project 4: Teacher Activity Notes - Tasty Tidbits
Summary Students create and share healthy recipes to eat and enjoy.
Non-copyrighted recipes from home, magazines, or cookbooks, nutritional table or Diet Analysis Plus® program.
Interdisciplinary Connections Health, Social Studies, Visual and Performing Arts, Home Economics
Estimated Time Two to three class periods spread over approximately 2 weeks. Students will need to complete some work at home; they should assign themselves homework in order to complete the project on time.
Collection of recipes with written dietary assessment of how healthy the recipes are.
- Provide students with a nutritional table or a computer program, such as Diet Analysis Plus® in order to calculate the calories, fat content, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins for each recipe.
- As a class, create a recipe book of dishes and desserts that are easy to prepare, novel, low in both fat and cholesterol, and taste good. Ask students to bring in and examine cookbooks and/or recipes from home or from magazines. Parents or guardians may need to help gather recipes, so send a letter home with students one week before beginning the project. This is a good opportunity to look at the diversity of the foods that different cultures prepare.
- Divide the class into groups of three to five students. Have each group choose or create three to five “heart smart” recipes. For each recipe, they should include the name of the dish, needed ingredients, how to prepare it, a drawing of the finished product, and reasons that the dish is healthy.
- Have students combine and organize the recipes into a class cookbook. They should include a cover, a table of contents, illustrations, and a rationale for using the recipes.
Suggested Follow-up Activities
- Publish the cookbook for parents, guardians, and the community. Money for this project may be obtained from the school district, or the cookbooks may be sold. CAUTION: Do not distribute the books if they contain copyrighted recipes.
- Ask students to assess what they learned in doing this project. Have them write about their experiences in a reflective paper.
Use the students' products to assess if students can
- define what it means to have a “heart smart” recipe.
- clearly write the instructions so that the recipe is “easy to prepare.”
- evaluate how nutritious the recipe is based on calories, fat content, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins.
- organize the recipes into a cookbook that has a professional appearance.
- convince the reader that the recipe is healthy.
Project 5: Teacher Activity Notes - Past vs. Present
Summary Students compare knowledge about and influences on health behaviors of adolescents today with those in the past 50 years. Students devise a plan of action for promoting healthier behavior with regard to maintaining cardiovascular health among their peers.
If possible, provide students with magazines such as Time, Life, Newsweek, or The Saturday Evening Post from previous decades.
Interdisciplinary Connections Health, Social Studies, Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts
- Two to three weeks. Allow for occasional group work in class. Students are expected to assign themselves homework in order to complete the project on time.
- Allot time during class for team presentations.
- Written responses to discussion questions
- Written action plan of how teams will promote healthier behavior among their peers
- Team presentations of their promotional efforts and the results of those efforts
1. Divide the class into groups of three to five to discuss if adolescents today are more informed and more conscious about health than adolescents in the past. Have them choose a decade in the recent past (within the last 50 years). Then ask them to compare adolescents of their decade to those in the past. To help them in-their discussions, provide magazines, newspapers, television shows, CD-ROMs, Internet sites, movies, photographs, memorabilia, and reference books. Encourage groups to interview people who were adolescents during the decade under study. Groups also should interview their peers.
2. Each group will use the information collected to discuss and write answers to the following questions:
a. In general, do you think today's adolescents are more knowledgeable about health and more health-conscious than adolescents in the past were? Why or why not?
b. What social, monetary, and/or educational factors are involved?
c. How could today's adolescents be more health-conscious and knowledgeable with respect to the aspect of health you researched?
Help students avoid right/wrong dichotomies about their parents', guardians', or friends' behaviors-that certain practices are “wrong” and others are “right.” Also help students examine the past decade with respect. People had different information and lived with different societal expectations and norms, in different decades.
3. In their groups, have students consider their responses to Question c above. Ask them to pick ONE thing that they could do to help today's adolescents lead a healthier life. It is important that they consider what they learned, how to convey the information to adolescents, and how to convince them that it is important to lead a healthy life with respect to this aspect of cardiovascular health.
4. Have students devise and write up a plan of action to accomplish their goals.
5. For final presentation have students explain what they did, why they did it, and their results. Encourage them to present their information in creative ways that are both interesting and educational. They may want to use slides, video, posters, or a multimedia presentation.
Suggested Follow-up Activities
- At the end of the year ask students to assess what they learned in this project. Have them write about these experiences in a reflective paper.
- Arrange for students to visit an advertising agency, newspaper publisher, or a TV station to see how information and/or images of health are created and portrayed.
- Ask students to use the information they have collected to change one aspect of their own behavior. Have them keep a weekly journal of their progress. Evaluate this change in behavior after a quarter, after a semester, or at the end of the year.
- Ask the class to synthesize all that the groups have learned in an article. Submit this article to the school and/or local newspaper for publication.
Use the students' products to assess if students can:
- identify the media's influence on adolescent health issues.
- create an action plan for promoting healthy behaviors among their peers.
- use primary sources like magazines, newspapers, CD-ROMs, the Internet, interviews, and surveys to obtain information on adolescent health issues.
- use visual and/or multimedia presentations to promote healthy behaviors.
- clearly explain what they did, why they did it, and their results.
- compare and contrast recent adolescent health issues with those encountered by teens during the decade they selected to research.