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Monday, February 9, 2015

Healthy & happy at Marie Reed, Part I: Soda vs. water

As a part of the winter season with DC SCORES, intern Kristen Miano is spending some time with the Marie Reed Panthers as they learn about healthy eating and healthy living. Kristen is writing about her experience being in the classroom with the students as they grow in their understanding of how to live healthier and happier lives through better nutrition and active lifestyles. You can follow Kristen and her observations on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.


Written by Kristen Miano
Digital Media Intern

Equipped with teaspoons and measuring cups, the students in the nutrition class at Marie Reed Elementary School clustered around tables, carefully measuring out sugar and food coloring and dumping them into cups of water.

“It’s an experiment,” explained fourth-grader Nick P. “We’re making soda.”

The Marie Reed Panthers were tasked with mixing up their own sugary beverages as a part of a lesson about hydration. More specifically, the students were learning about the difference between soda and water and why the latter should be their drink of choice.

“We wanted to show the students why water is important to drink, especially for athletes,” said nutrition teacher Carolyn Brandt. “We also wanted to show them why consuming so much sugar and caffeine from soda isn’t as good for them.”

Prior to concocting their homemade sodas, the students listened to a presentation discussing how much water they should be drinking versus how much added sugar they should be getting per day.

The students were asked to guess how many teaspoons of added sugar they should have, at most, per day.

“Two!” came one answer. Too low.

“Twenty-one!” was another. Too high.

The answer ended up being 16 teaspoons, which some students felt was still a lot.

“But when you get 11 teaspoons from one soda,” the teacher explained, “How much more sugar can you have?”

The five teaspoons leftover certainly didn’t seem like all that much left for an entire day.

If you are thirsty, the Panthers learned that the best thing to drink was water, as it has no added sugar and no caffeine. The students also learned that water is important because it helps our bodies get rid of waste and helps us cool off when we sweat.

When it came to creating their sodas, many students were surprised by the amount of added dye and sugar they were asked to put into their water, illustrating just how unhealthy soda could be when consumed excessively.

“We’re not supposed to drink soda,” said fourth-grader Taryn H. “It’s a lesson so we can see what’s in soda and why it’s not healthy.”

This nutrition lesson will no doubt be helpful to the Panthers whenever they take the soccer field. Drinking eight or more glasses of water per day is an important lesson for everyone, after all, and is an area the Marie Reed students are now experts in.

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