By ABBY SLANKER
Third-grade students at Dobbins Elementary School got a lesson in nutrition, complete with hands-on activities on March 14. The students rotated among four stations where they learned about healthy eating, proper nutrition and exercise.
“We are very excited to promote the importance of good nutrition and exercise at Dobbins,” said Cheryl Borovitcky, Dobbins Elementary School principal.
School nurse Cathy Fedor taught the students about balancing calories in and calories out. Students chose from snacks such as Skittles, yogurt, potato chips, an orange, celery and a soda. Then they chose which physical activity they wanted to perform to burn off the calories, such as jumping jacks, jump rope, lifting weights, skipping and jogging in place. Fedor then calculated how long each student would have to exercise to burn off the calories from the snack.
“This activity is about achieving a balance of calories in and calories out. We kind of want to get away from the good food, bad food theory. I am trying to teach them that if they want to have that bag of Skittles, they need to be prepared to put in the work to burn off the calories they consume from the candy. I think some of the students were a bit surprised how long they would have to exercise to burn off a snack they enjoy,” Fedor said.
Food Service Director Barb Dorbish talked to the students about appropriate portion sizes. She gave the students bowls full of such foods as chicken, crackers, cheese, popcorn, corn, pasta and grapes and asked them to spoon out a portion of the food they would normally eat.
Dorbish then weighed each portion to see if it was on point with how much a portion size should be for children of their age. She also included portions of juice and milk.
Dorbish then gave the children some examples of how big a portion size should be, such as a tennis ball is the equivalent size of a fruit serving and a deck of cards is equivalent of a protein portion.
The students also played Nutrition Bingo with Melissa Beaumier, Dorbish’s secretary in food service. Beaumier read the students clues about grains, protein, vegetables, fruits and dairy and when they figured out which food she was giving clues about, the students marked it on their bingo card if they had it.
At a fourth station, Heather Kollar, a dietician and school parent volunteer, talked to the children about how much sugar was in foods and beverages. With bottles of Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Vitamin Water, an energy drink and packs of M&Ms, Skittles and Sour Patch Kids in front of her, Kollar explained to the children how much sugar is actually in each product by showing them the teaspoons of sugar in a see-through baggie.
“This is the third year we have held this event at Dobbins. And since March is National Nutrition Month, we wanted to tie our nutrition event into the national celebration,” Kollar said.
At the end of the nutrition event, the students gathered in the gym and had the opportunity to win prizes which were donated to the school. Cocca’s Pizza donated a gift certificate for a grilled chicken salad, The Caf at Wittenaurs donated a gift card and T-shirt, Boardman Vegetable donated fruit baskets and the YMCA donated day passes.
The students also left the event with a goody bag full of nutritional foods and a folder full of the information that was covered at each station to take home and share with their parents.