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Ashhurst School - Kat Thompson

2017 - Exploring the impact of physical activity in exercise for health and sports performance in humans

School: Ashhurst School

Host: School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University

Region: Manawatu

Ashhurst School believes that science is a foundation learning area. We believe it to be essential that students are given ample opportunity to participate in high quality science education so as to have a clear understanding of the principals of science needed in their journey to become active and critical participants in both the local and global community. We would like to unravel the mysteries of science and have our students understand the important role that the Nature of Science plays within our everyday lives. We want children to explore the world around them with wonderment and awe, asking pertinent questions through a scientific lens. To be successful as a school, it is imperative that teachers have a clear understanding of what the scientific process looks like, and we have high quality programs where teachers build on previous learning experiences to further enrich students learning.

Kat has over a decade worth of experience teaching and is a primary teacher in the Manawatu region. She is passionate about teaching and encouraging lifelong desires to learn. Kat has a background in Information Technology and is enthusiastic about encompassing both technology and science into her classroom. She enjoys teaching science and nurturing the desire within children to be curious about the world around them and to wonder.

Kat has been hosted by Dr Toby Mündel at the School of Sports and Exercise at Massey University of Palmerston North. Her placement has involved attending Sports and Exercise lectures and laboratories; observing and engaging in science in a variety of health clinics working with sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis, grade 3 astrocytoma and rehabilitation physical training, indepth discussions with scientists and postgraduate students based around their research in addition to helping with and observing research. Kat has been involved with; Bikes in Schools, Chronic Fatigue and Healthy Control Study, Long Term Effects of Using Vibration Plates and VO2 Sub Maximum Exertion tests. These experiences allowed her to observe the Nature of Science in the real world, through opportunities with the scientists via discussions, observation, data collection and analysis.

The field research trips of “Bikes in School’ was the first research where Kat was involved with the gathering of physical data, she greatly enjoyed the opportunity to see how scientists interact with real people collecting and analysing data. Kat engaged in science aiming to control the environment by issuing fitness tests and data collection under the same conditions across multiple Manawatu schools.

A highlight for Kat was working in the Locomotive Clinic with a client who was unable to move the lower half of her body. The client was hoisted into a standing position whereupon two students manipulated her legs, knees ad feet whilst another student stood behind her attached via strength bands for additional support. Kat operated the machinery and the team and the client worked together through a fitness program, comprising of repeated walking intervals of different speeds and intermittent stretching between intervals. At the conclusion of the workout session the muscle twitch was extremely rapid and visible to the naked eye in the hip-calf region. The client regained feeling in her hips and legs in areas where sensation had previously been lost which showcased the amazing capabilities of the human nervous system.

The Science Teacher and Leadership Program provided Kat with the opportunity of a lifetime for her professional teaching career. She is keen to collate her new wealth of knowledge and skills she has learnt and apply them to her teaching. Kat would like to thank The Royal Society, Dr Mündel, Dr Hodges and the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University and Ashhurst School for investing in her.

Follow Kat's blog to see more of what she got up to on the programme: My Journey of the STLP