Twist and Shout session references

crabsAs I mentioned previously, Jen Lokey, Isabel Leeder and I presented a session on the benefits of physical activity on learning. There is plenty of research available showing that all sorts of good biochemistry starts happening in the brain when we start moving (resources used during our session are sited below). This session was designed to share that information and to share what each of our centers are doing to promote physical activity.

planesAs attendees arrived, there were materials on the tables for them to begin constructing planes. Once they built either paper or polystyrene planes, they could go out into the hallway to test them and see how far they’d fly. This idea of building in one place and going elsewhere to test was described as an implicit activity, one where movement is incorporated into another primary activity.

Next we discussed what goes on in the brain during physical activity. After sitting for a while, learning about dopamine levels, it was time to get up again. This time we went out into the hall to crab walk the length of a cow’s small intestine (110′), an explicit physical activity because the stated intent was to get up and move.

Gathering back in the workshop room, Isabel shared details of a research project currently being undertaken in Miami and New York. They are examining how virtual activity done by a personalized avatar in a simulated world promotes physical activity in the girl the avatar was modeled on. The hope is that by having girls try activities in virtual environments, they will be more willing to attempt these same activities in the real world.

Finally, we ended the session by asking the participants to group up and pick a scientific concept. Then spend five minutes choreographing a (mostly) silent interpretive dance to explain the concept. There were some great examples. You can see all of them below.

Thanks to all who attended and to the other presenters. I hope everyone had as much fun in the session as I did. We’re already discussing how we can extend this topic in a presentation at ASTC 2015 in Montreal. See you there.

  • Were you in the session and have feedback for us?
  • Is there research you particularly like related to physical activity and learning?
  • What do you do to incorporate physical activity into your lessons?
  • What scientific concept would you want to see or perform as interpretive dance?


  • Blakemore, C. Movement is essential to learning, Journal of Physical Science, 74 (9).
  • Chaddock, I., et al. (2010). A neuroimagining investigation of the association between aerobic fitness hippocampal volume, and memory performance in preadolescent children. Brain Research. 1358: 172-183.
  • Cotman, C., Berchtold, N. (2002) Exercise: a behavioural intervention to enhance brain health and plasticity. Trends in Neuroscience. 295-301.
  • Craig, D. Brain-compatible learning: Principles and applications in athletic training, Journal of Athletic Training, 38 (4).
  • Falls, W.A., Fox, J.H., MacAuley, C.M. (2010). Voluntary exercise improves both learning and consolidation of cued conditioned fear in C57 mice. Behavioral Brain Research, 207(2), 321-331.
  • Hannaford, C.  (1990). The brain gym option for hyperactivity, ADD, E.H., Sp.Ed., L.D., and FAS. Australian Journal of Remedial Education, 26 (1).
  • Hannaford, C. (1996). Learning, 25 (3).
  • Price, S., and Rogers, Y. (2004). Let’s get physical: The learning bnefits of interacting in digitally augmented physical spaces, 43 (1-2).
  • Spielmann, C., and Pearce, K. The Effects of Movement Based Learning on Student Achievement in the Elementary School Classroom.
  • Uysal, N., Tugyan,K., Kayatekin, B., Acikgoz, O., Bagriyanik, H., Gonenca, S., Ozdemir, D., Aksua, I., Topcu, A., Semin, I. (2005) The effects of regular aerobic exercise in adolescent period on hippocampal neuron density, apoptosis and spatial memory. Neuroscience Letters, 241-245.
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