New Steps to Health 3rd Grade Curriculum Fostering Positive Change in Buncombe County

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students working on bone lesson

Students in two Buncombe County Elementary schools have been participating in the Steps to Health program for more than 10 years. With the aligning of the 2nd and 3rd grade curriculum two years ago, the students had been getting similar classes two years in a row. There was also a need to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) with young learners. There continues to be a need to have students experience tasting more fruits and vegetables and exposed to learning how to make healthier choices.

Last school year we started the new Steps to Health 3rd grade curriculum, which bases its lessons on the fundamentals of STEAM with more experiential learning activities. Buncombe County was one of the few counties to conduct this program. The FCS agent, teachers and students put extra effort into helping to adjust when needed the activities to be more impactful with students of varying abilities. The teachers also enjoyed having more STEAM oriented lessons. The students enjoyed having different lessons from the ones they had in 2nd grade. The ability to provide tasting of various fruits and vegetables exposed the students to trying new foods. The program was conducted in six classrooms and reached 119 students.

Forty-three students increased their fruits and vegetable intake, while many maintained eating fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. Thirty-one students increased their health habits of label reading and practicing better hygeine. Sixteen parents returned surveys indicating that their children and family increased fruits and vegetable intake as well as decreased sugar sweetened beverages. The activities were well received and students shared that they did not know that nutrition and foods were so science based and that there were job opportunities in those fields. The STEM teachers in both schools felt that curriculum aligned with how they conduct their STEM activities and enhanced their ability to promote STEAM in their schools. We were able to expand the 3rd grade program to another school and add 5 more classes. We can’t wait to see what the results are this year!