A report on HES Extension programs
serving Missouris families and communities
Penny sherman, a nutrition education assistant,
uses computer graphics and a TV monitor to help
get the message across to kindergarten students
Laptops help students
learn more during
Worms or germs
|The 20 little faces, momentarily filled with dislike and disgust didn't seem
to discourage Kristi Bliley or Penny Sherman from doing their presentation. Having
completed dozens of similar sessions, they know the reaction to nasty germs is
Nutrition education assistants Bliley and
Sherman are two of 21 extension staff members who teach Don't Eat Worms or
Germs at schools in Northwest Missouri. The lesson educates children in kindergarten
through second grade on the importance of proper handwashing and the prevention of
spreading germs. From March to May of 1998, the 15 counties in the region successfully
piloted the program, testing whether the use of laptops enhances the presentation.
I felt we had an opportunity to update our
presentation using more technology rather than using flipcharts and overheads, said
Karma Metzgar, nutrition specialist in Nodaway County. By adding another dimension
of teaching, the computer assisted learning dimension, we key into the seeing and hearing
to build the person's knowledge base, as well as provide them pictures on applying the
The laptops enabled the presenters to show water,
soap, paper towels and imaginary creatures that represent germs on a television screen.
The children were also able to test what they had learned by placing specific actions in
students, at Pershing Elementary School in St. Joseph, answer questions at a
Dont Eat Worms or Germs presentation.
|For example, the children were shown illustrations
of a used paper towel, hands being rinsed with water and hands with bubbles, then asked to
put the pictures in the proper order.
really catch on with pictures more than before, said Bliley. The laptop also
helps to keep me on track by reminding me to cover all the necessary information.
With a standardized presentation, the same
information is given to the children no matter who the presenter is, said Janet Hackert, a
nutrition specialist in Harrison County. The added visuals also helped the presenters to
retain the children's attention span, said Metzgar.
|When we talked about germs, they
were imaginary pictures, she said. When working with kids, they put pictures
with words they know. Nutrition, healthy, nutrients and germs are words which they don't
have concrete mental pictures for yet, much less even know how to spell.
In the fifth year of the
program, extension staff members visited over 100 classrooms and over 1,500 children
during the 1997-98 school year. According to evaluation data, nearly three times as many
children learned more with the laptop presentations than without.
Since the pilot program was a success, a disk with
the laptop presentation has been distributed to nutrition specialists across the state.
Laptop presentations are being considered for other lessons in
the Family Nutrition Education Programs (FNEP) as well, said Barbara Willenberg, state
co-coordinator of FNEP.
Using the laptops is just one more way of
teaching, said Willenberg. It's a delivery method into the future and can
enhance the several curricula that are offered.
|The Don't Eat Worms or
Germs computer assisted learning presentation was created by Metzgar and Hackert,
who are the co-coordinators of the program, along with a regional technology specialist
and six nutrition education assistants.
Fifteen youth education assistants in the Northwest region
also help with presentations. Don't Eat Worms or Germs is one of five lessons
in the Food Safety Express program and is targeted to first graders. Family Nutrition
Education Programs such as the Food Safety Express and Professor Popcorn are administered
by the College of Human Environmental Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia and
University Outreach and Extension in 90 counties throughout the state.
One of the simplest messages that sherman delivers is the importance of
hand washing in fighting germs.
For more information about
the Family Nutrition Education Program contact:
Barbara Willenberg or Jo Britt-Rankin,
Food Science and Human Nutrition
University of Missouri,
Columbia, MO 65211
phone: (573) 882-2399
Fax: (573) 884=5449
|Impact Table of Contents
HES Extension Site Administrator