MSU student to begin study at Armstrong

Staff Writer

Two classrooms at Armstrong Middle School will soon be involved in a Mississippi State University graduate student’s study.

At its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 14, the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the study presented at the meeting by Katie Spring, a Starkville native and graduate student in exercise physiology. The 14-week study will involve putting elastic bands under desks where students could move them with their feet, or rest their feet on them. One of the classrooms would be used to measure the activity of students at their seats, with students wearing devices around their ankles to measure motion, and results with and without the bands being compared. The bands will be in the classroom for half of the study and absent for the other half.

The other classroom would be used to gauge focus of students with and without the bands. Some students will receive the bands, while others will not. Six students from the second classroom would be randomly selected to have their behavior be closely monitored through the duration of the study.

Spring will carry out the study under MSU assistant professor of kinesiology Megan Holmes.

“The overall plan is to kind of see if we can teach not only middle school students, but just students in general healthier behaviors at a younger age,” Spring said. “We can kind of teach them that if they’re sitting in a classroom, they don’t just have to sit still. There’s other ways to incorporate physical activities into their days. We are taking these under-the-desk bands that attach to the desk, and come in a variety of different sizes.”

Spring said the study could begin at some point next week, following approval by the university’s educational review board.

“Probably the first week of September is the week we’re planning to start, possibly recruiting students and starting data collection,” Spring said.

Basic health measurement and demographic data would be recorded for participating students at the beginning and end of the study. One or two researchers will visit the classrooms weekly to observe. All participation in the study will be voluntary, and parent permission will be obtained prior to the beginning of the study.

Spring said she started preparing the study almost a year ago.

“My lab and myself kind of started looking at the idea of doing this probably last fall,” Spring said. “It was when we had to start getting the idea of doing the project and kind of shaping it. It didn’t really take shape until the spring. That’s when we started trying to reach out to the school board and the superintendent to try and get on the meeting.”

Spring said she was excited to be able to perform the study in the same town and school district she grew up in.

“It’s a big deal for me to not only be approved by the school board, but also to be able to help do some research and give back to the community that helped make me the person that I am,” Spring said.