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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Investigate the Heart

When the boys and I are at the park, I sit with my friends and we watch the kids run around for hours. Inevitably, from time to time, one of us says something like: “Can you remember having that kind of energy?” Or “Don’t you wish they could bottle that?” One day last week our kids ran around the park for over 4 hours! My favorite comment on days like that is: “They will sleep well tonight!”
My boys don’t think about keeping their heart rates up while exercising like I do while trying to walk off my extra pounds. The boys just run and play. Nature and metabolism do the rest. (I am guessing on that point…not a scientific observation.) However, in light of the Sid the Science Kid Health cycle this week, I thought it was a good idea to illustrate the power of the heart.
On one of our park days I called the Henry, Leo, and their friend Logan over. They came running, explaining a complicated game I was interrupting. When I asked if they wanted to do an experiment they all yelled “Yeah!” I hope their future high school science teachers received the same kind of enthusiasm.
I had the boys sit on the grass and listen for the thump thump of their heartbeats. It was challenging for them — mostly because they kept talking as they searched. I asked them to be very quiet and very still and showed them where to place their hands. Eventually, they all felt the steady rhythm of their heartbeats at rest. It was sweet to watch them listen in earnest.
Heart1edited.jpg
I also tried to show them how to feel heartbeats through their pulse, but we were less successful. I did, however, talk with them about the job of the heart and helped them understand how important it was to keep it healthy–specifically with exercise.
Then, I told them to run: “Go up the little hill, run around the big tree, run back down the hill, come back to me, and then DO IT AGAIN!” They took off in a sprint. Of course, they fumbled the directions and balked when I sent them back out again, but they ran with gusto!
Heart2edited.jpg
By the time Leo, Logan, and Henry flopped back on the ground they were obviously energized. I quickly told them to put their hands on their hearts and tell me what they felt. All three boys were amazed at how swift their hearts were thumping. They didn’t feel challenged to find their heartbeats this time. I asked them to cover their ears to feel the sensation in their heads of their hearts beating after exercise.
Heart3edited.jpg
A moment later Henry asked, “Can we go now?” and off they went back to their game. Energy unbound. Hopefully our little investigation on a sunny summer day will have impact so they remember and understand the importance of heart health through exercise. It is somewhat like the nutrition instruction I try and work subtly into their lives. I don’t force the information on them; I try and weave information about health into our everyday lives. For now, I can feel good about the fact that Henry and Leo will run and play and swim for hours a day without complaint. I hope they make time for that as adults too!
What activities keep your kids’ hearts pumping over the summer? How do you talk with them about heart health?


Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo
 

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