Bert Bowes student's experiment good enough for Google

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A Fort St. John student has conducted a study showing the positive effects exercise can have on the human brain and entered it in an online science fair.

Kevala Van Volkenburg, a grade eight student from Bert Bowes Junior/Secondary School, has submitted her experiment in the 2011 Google Science Fair entitled “Train Your Brain with Exercise!”

Van Volkenburg’s experiment has been selected, along with 59 other projects, as the science fair’s semi-finalist entries.

Her study asks whether 10 minutes of exercise before a quiz improves cognitive functioning in the area of math and reading.

In her experiment, Van Volkenburg required the use of 29 test subjects – 17 females and 12 males – from grades five and six. The study had each participant take a math and reading comprehension test. After recording the results, test subjects participated in a 10 minute exercise seminar, including a variety of aerobic exercises. After exercising, the subjects were asked to complete a second set of similar math and English tests.

This process was repeated on 10 different occasions, with results being recorded each time.

After completing her experiments, Van Volkenburg, who hypothesized an increase of 10 per cent in an individual subject’s mark, discovered an average increase of 19.6 per cent after participants took part in 10 minutes of mild aerobic exercise. Math scores increased 12 per cent, while reading comprehension increased 27 per cent. An increase was witnessed in every student that participated in the experiment.

After completing her experiment, she concludes that 10 minutes of aerobic exercise does in fact increase cognitive functioning in students.

Von Volkenburg’s project is currently available for display on the 2011 Google Science Fair website as part of the 13-14 age-group. Visitors of the website have the opportunity to vote on which experiment they feel deserves to win, with that opportunity ending May 20. The winner of each category, as well as the five finalists will be announced on May 23.

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