Children in low-income, urban public schools are at a greater risk of poor physical activity (PA) and academic outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the use of a novel exerlearning application, Active Science (AS), in third-grade physical education (PE) classes improved PA levels, student attitudes toward science, and third-grade science curriculum content knowledge.
A two-arm pragmatic evaluation was conducted in a public elementary school serving low-income, urban neighborhoods. Six third-grade classrooms were randomly assigned to take part in 8 wk of either PE classes using AS, in which students self-monitor their PA data and use it to complete tablet-based science lessons, or PE classes without the use of AS. PE curriculum was the same in both arms; accelerometers were used to track student PA data during classes. Student attitudes toward science were measured pre- or postintervention using the Modified Attitudes toward Science Inventory (MATSI); science content knowledge was assessed using the Integrated Active Science Knowledge Assessment (IASKA).
N = 135 students participated in the study; n = 66 completed both pre- and post-MATSI and IASKA testing. Because of the time needed to complete the tablet-based AS lessons, student steps, minutes of PA, and minutes of moderate to vigorous PA were significantly lower in the intervention group; however, steps per minute and PA as a percentage of available PE time increased in the intervention group. Participation in AS did not affect MATSI scores but did significantly improve IASKA performance.
AS has promise to economically improve student PA and science achievement. However, lesson completion should be moved into academic transitional or science instruction periods to better achieve the goal of increasing moderate to vigorous PA during PE.