Students help teacher meet fitness goals through STEM

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Seventh graders Aubri Donalson, Dalyah Minor, Gracie Surratt and Hanna Lewis have worked promoting BMS’s upcoming 5K while also documenting the progress of the students’ year-long STEM project. — Shelby Farmer

A Bainbridge Middle School science teacher put her health into the hands of her students in an effort to teach the relationship between wellness and STEM.

The project, which began in September, started as a way to teach students about childhood obesity, but what the students were learning was soon used in a very hands-on manner as science teacher Tynesse Butler let the students help her try to reach a healthier weight.

“We’re integrating science, technology, engineering and math to effectively help Ms. Butler lose weight, and show that we can transform somebody with our intelligence and our knowledge combined and use it help Ms. Butler be healthy,” said seventh grader Gracie Surratt.

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The STEM project is multifaceted and made up of teams of students focusing on a different aspect of health and wellness in relation to STEM. There’s a medical team, nutrition team, research team, fitness team and publicity team.

“What each of these teams has done is taken their part and worked together as a collaboration and came up with a nutrition plan, exercise plan; they studied my medication to see why I’m on it and its effect on my body,” Butler said. “They’ve just taken complete control of everything.”

Students researched local gyms, met with dieticians and even attended a diabetic education class at the hospital.

Butler said that the project was all about challenging her students, and she was encouraged by the overwhelming support she received.

“When I presented the challenge to them, they didn’t pick. They just seemed like they were all on board and ready to dive in and help,” Butler said. “You know how kids are and can pick at each other or pick on people who are overweight? I didn’t have that. That was encouraging. Each day someone would check in and say, ‘How’s it going?’ and give encouraging words.”

With the students’ fitness and nutrition program, Butler said she’s gone down from a size 22 in September to a size 16 currently.

“I still got a way to go, but I’m encouraged to get there,” Butler said.

In conjunction with the health and fitness project, some students also took part in a 12-week “Couch to 5K” class that will end this Saturday with a 5K.

“We had about 68 people involved,” said BMS science teacher Greta Connor. “That included parents, students, teachers, people from every aspect of the community. Our last class is this Thursday, and our 5K is this Saturday, so we’ll participate in that as a kind of graduation from the class.”

Adding to the STEM aspect, there was also a t-shirt contest amongst the seventh graders. Connor said that the top two winners were able to help the graphic artist design the shirts and see the technology used to make them firsthand.

The students were excited to help and be given so much responsibility, Surratt said.

“It really was life-changing to know we could impact a person so much to where their confidence would be uplifted and changed in a way that would make them feel better,” Surratt said. “It was really empowering to see how we could do that. Nobody would think a bunch of seventh graders would be able to do this. I think it showed a lot to the community that we could do something this big.”

After learning about fitness through the project, seventh graders Aubri Donalson and Hanna Lewis offered advice to anyone working toward a healthier lifestyle.

“Stay strong, and don’t give up if you don’t lose as much weight as you would like to. It will work out if you keep on keeping on,” Donalson said.

“Do a lot of research, because you don’t want to do something bad. You want to look into it a lot, because you could do something to hurt yourself,” Lewis said.

Butler said that the experience has been a challenge, but has maintained a positive outlook.

“My motto is: if you believe it, you can achieve it. It all starts in the mind. The mind is a powerful tool,” Butler said.

The 5K will kick off at 8 a.m. at BMS Saturday. Registration details can be found on the BMS website.