The Miami Science Museum has again partnered with the Department of Psychology at the University of Miami, and the New York Hall of Science, to create GROOVE (Girls Realizing Options through Open-Sim Virtual Experiences). GROOVE is a 5-year research study and yearly summer program for middle school girls focused on nutrition and physical activity funded by NIH's Science Education Partnership Awards (SEPA). The summer program activities include designing food trucks with healthy menus, dance competitions and a walkathon. In addition, GROOVE provides participating girls with STEM career awareness and emphasizes family involvement throughout each program.
Take a lesson from the GROOVE girls this holiday season! Instead of baking sugary and high fat snacks or deserts make edible fruit creations. Too much sugar and fat in our diet can make the pounds add up and cause many health problems in the long run. Instead of baking and decorating cookies or cupcakes, get fun and creative with fruit! Unlike cupcakes, fruit is one of the five essential food groups on the USDA’s MyPlate. Fruit has healthy sugars, and much needed vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s also yummy and has vibrant colors that inspire artistic expression. GROOVE girls at MSM and NYSCI swapped out traditional sugary desserts with fruit sticks (shown here), fruit smoothies, and fruit yogurt parfaits.
Girls in the MSM GROOVE summer program have fun making edible fruit creations as healthy snacks.
New York and Miami collaborate in the GROOVE Island to develop virtual food trucks in mixed museum teams comprised of girls from both The New York Hall of Science and the Miami Science Museum GROOVE Summer Programs. Girls formed teams of 4-5 avatars using the virtual world to inhabit a common virtual space where they can communicate with each other, instructors, and health experts using voice or text chat. Developing food trucks is one of the GROOVE strategies to teach girls about nutrition and portion control. Teams research cuisines, and the nutritional content of foods to develop menus for their food trucks according to MyPlate recommendations issued by the USDA.
The picture on the top left features girls in the MSM summer program. The picture on the bottom left features girls in the NYSCI summer program. The picture to the right depicts girls from both sites represented by their avatars as they build their trucks and menus.
Body image is an important factor for a girl’s health. Girls are exposed to many messages about weight from peers and the media that are not ideal for having a healthy, active and happy life. GROOVE girls learn how weight is not the only factor that determines health status. A good health indicator is Body Mass Index (BMI). For middle school girls of a given weight, body mass index varies depending on age and height.
The girl pictured on the left is using clay to learn how for a given weight, body mass index varies as a function of age and height. On the right, girls represented by their avatars edit their percent body fat, height and appearance to make an avatar that represents them.