Science Project Effects Student Focus and School Policy

By KBJR News 1

January 14, 2011 Updated Jan 14, 2011 at 7:24 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's Newscenter)----Most of us remember what it was like to sit for hours in elementary school trying to keep our attention focused on our lessons.

For many kids it's tough to spend all those hours in a chair.

One 9Th grade student in Duluth has made efforts to help improve the attention span of students at her school.

The idea for Eva Host's ninth grade science project came to her through a family friend.

"So she wanted to test a yoga ball, to see if it might help him focus better in school, said Eva Host. "But, she didn't want to single him out to be the only one with a yoga ball and get teased. So she thought that maybe if I did a science experiment on it, then maybe the whole class could do it."

Using the scientific method outlined in her science class, Eva constructed her experiment.

The hypothesis: By sitting on exercise balls in class, students, particularly those who have difficulty paying attention, will be able to focus their attention better than if they were sitting on chairs.

Twelve fourth grade students in one classroom participated in the experiment.

Students sat in chairs like this for one week, and for another week, students sat on exercise balls.

The balls are 68 inches in circumference, and allow students to get a good leaning balance.

"I think the kids just sit up," said fourth grade teacher Darla Hardesty. "They have a little bit of a bounce. I have lots of boys in here that have lots of wiggles. This gives them a chance to do a little bit of wiggling and yet do their work."

Students were not aware of the fact they were being audited during the first week while they were sitting in their chairs.

"If they knew about it their behavior may have been different they may have been better behaved or more poorly behaved depending on the knowledge they had," Hardesty said.

The results after sitting on the balls for just one week prove Eva's hypothesis.

Students were in fact able to focus their attention better on the teacher's curriculum.

"When she's talking, I can just look at her and it's just a little easier to focus," said Josh, a student in the experiment.

Though Eva doesn't know if she will continue her research into upper science fair divisions, one thing is certain, she may have already impacted classroom policy.

School officials are looking into making the use of exercise balls a more permanent option.

"If it helps one kid, I see it happening, if it helps two, I see it happening," said science teacher, Jeramy Canefield.

Eva plans to enter her project in the LCA science fair, which will be held on January 17Th.

Written and posted to the web: Jennifer Walch