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Monday, February 3, 2014

The Power of Choice at Bancroft Elementary part I: Reading nutrition labels

This winter, DC SCORES intern Kara Dunford is spending her afternoons at Bancroft Elementary School as the Bengals take part in Winter SCORES. Each week, Kara is writing about her experience observing and interacting with the students as they learn about nutrition and healthy eating habits through the Power of Choice curriculum. You can also follow Kara’s observations on Twitter and Instagram by searching #WinterSCORES. View photos on Flickr


Written by Kara Dunford 
Communications Intern

Coaches at Bancroft Elementary School circled the classroom presenting a bowl of paper clips to DC SCORES students, who were encouraged to take as many as they pleased.

“Oh, I like the shiny gold ones,” one student eagerly exclaimed, as others grabbed handfuls from the bowl.

“There must be a trick,” another student said, questioning the activity’s purpose as he selected only one paper clip.

After the last student had made her selections, the coaches revealed the next step: each student would need to share facts about themselves to total the number of paper clips selected. Groans rang out throughout the room, as students counted 52 paper clips, 84, 100, and more.

The sharing complete, the coaches asked who would change the number of clips selected if they knew the activity’s purpose. I wasn’t surprised when hands shot up around the classroom.

“So if we know the consequences, we can avoid being tricked,” the coaches explained.

How can the students avoid being tricked by food? By learning how to read nutrition labels.

DC SCORES winter programming offers students a chance to combine soccer practices with an understanding of basic nutrition, learning how to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

The first nutrition label students examined? A family size bag of Lay’s potato chips. As eyes grew wide at the sight of the popular snack food, the coaches guided students through the parts of a nutrition label, learning the amount of calories, sodium, total fat, and saturated fat inside the bag.

Then it was time to get active. The students showed off some pretty creative dance moves as music blared from the stereo.

To link the two activities together, the coaches asked how long an individual would need to dance to burn off the entire bag of chips.

Students called out their answers. Some were much too low. Thurday minutes. Some were much too high. A year.

But when the final answer was revealed, all in the room, myself included, were surprised by the result.

Twenty-six hours. It would take over a day of dancing non-stop at a moderately fast pace to burn off the calories contained in the bag of chips.

Choices have consequences, as the Bancroft Bengals learned this week.

Empowering students to learn the contents of their food choices is just one of the lessons of winter programming. As the weeks go on, I will be spending time at Bancroft Elementary School, engaging with the students and learning alongside them. I’ll share my adventures on this blog, as well as in a weekly video series. On social media, search the hashtag #winterSCORES to follow along.

Check out the first video installment (embedded above) for an introduction to winter programming and a peek at some of the Bengals’ awesome dance moves.

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