Brains — real and fake — were on display Wednesday in the Park Forest Middle School gymnasium.
They were from SLEIC — Social, Life, and Engineering Sciences Imaging Center — and AXONS Graduate Student Group at Penn State. The brains helped give some middle school students a glimpse into how the organ works in animals and humans.
But the brain display was just one of about 50 educational activities included in the Park Forest Middle School Health Fair on Wednesday.
Sixth-grade teacher Brian McGonigal said the event is annually organized to promote health and wellness among students and staff.
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Park Forest Health Fair established about 10 years ago
The fair was created about 10 years ago for students to participate in after taking the Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, also known as PSSA tests, instead of having a traditional school day.
“They did like three hours of testing, and their brains were wiped out, so we wanted to find a way to give them a rest, while still actively learning,” McGonigal said.
About 50 vendors were in attendance, including representatives from Penn State, Mount Nittany Health, the YMCA of Centre County, Tussey Mountain, Patton Township police, Alpha Fire Company and student groups from State College Area High School.
Penn State student-athletes also held a series of question-and-answer sessions about the importance of taking care of your body.
And that’s what sixth-grade student Jack Morris said was the most interesting to him.
I’m really interested in the human body and why it works the way it does, so it’s cool to hear about why it’s so important to eat right and get a lot of rest because it can help your body
Jack Morris, student
“I’m really interested in the human body and why it works the way it does, so it’s cool to hear about why it’s so important to eat right and get a lot of rest because it can help your body,” he said. “I think it’s more effective to hear it from them.”
The first group of athletes included wrestler George Carpenter, swimmer Casey Francis and hockey player Aly Hardy.
“The goal of it was to come up with ways to promote healthy living and a healthy lifestyle, and it’s kind of taken off after that,” sixth-grade teacher and event co-organizer Matt Ammerman said. “I think what the kids like most is the variety of activities that are really interactive.”
Other activities at the event were dynamometer tests from the Mount Nittany Health Fit for Play program, bucket lift rides on a fire apparatus, straight line walks with alcohol vision goggles and samples of healthy snacks from Trader Joe’s.