This fall 150 seventh-grade students in the Plain Local Schools Oakwood Middle School STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Academy will extensively explore youth concussions and how they impact everyday life. Underwritten by a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation with support from Mercy Medical Center, this problem-based learning unit will integrate everyday STEM classroom activities during the first nine weeks with research, observation, critical thinking, problem solving and application. The program will culminate in a multimedia presentation to all third- and fourth-grade students in Plain Local.
Oakwood principal Brian Matthews and his team of STEM teachers collaborated on the development of and funding for this innovative program. It includes “launch trips” to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, as well as to the University of Toledo and an Elyria-based plant that manufactures Riddell® helmets. The team may also be able to tour Mercy Radiology and the Cleveland Browns training facility in Berea.
“Concussions are a real-world problem with life applications,” says Matthews. “Not every STEM student will be interested in sports or medicine. However, they will all learn meaningful, practical skills with the added benefit of health awareness – for themselves and our community.”
Plain Local and Mercy have been partners for several years. GlenOak High School houses the Mercy Health Center of Plain, and Mark Hudak, MD, medical director of Mercy Sports Medicine, helps safeguard the health of Plain Local athletes.
“This concussion unit will be the first classroom collaboration with Mercy health professionals,” says Eldon Jones, administrative director of Mercy Sports Medicine. “Our job will be to help students understand concussions from a health care perspective, including how we diagnose and treat them.”
Adam Maurer, a Plain parent and representative of Performance Evaluation Group, will also be working with the STEM team. Maurer’s organization provides a movement-based, pre-concussion evaluation that can complement Mercy’s ImPACT computerized test of neurocognitive function. The objective is to establish a baseline for comparison when considering a youth’s return to school and/or play following a concussion.
Maurer says, “Students will work side by side with us, administering the tests, evaluating the data points and doing the math. They’ll help us evaluate athletes in a hands-on way using the technology.”
The final goal of the unit is to have students work in teams to put together their concussion information in a useful manner that is simple and can help others learn about the importance of recognizing the symptoms of a concussion. Look for information from STEM students at the upcoming Plain Family Fun and Fit Day.