Primary pupils go on the run for better test results

P5 pupils at Elmgrove PS after completing the one mile run
P5 pupils at Elmgrove PS after completing the one mile run

Pupils at an east Belfast primary school have hit the ground running when it comes to a scientific study linking exercise to learning.

This past week a class of P5 pupils at Elmgrove PS has been running a mile a day then taking a test directly afterwards. The previous week pupils were tested after no exercise.

Pupils warming up in the school grounds for the big run

Pupils warming up in the school grounds for the big run

Although the results were still to be properly analysed, indications were that their average test scores – using a concentration app on an iPad – were considerably higher during the second week after they had run four laps of the school grounds.

The News Letter visited the school this week and caught up (literally) with the pupils and their teacher Alistair Beacom during their mile run.

Mr Beacom, who has been a teacher at the school for eight years, said: “The first day we ran this week was probably the most challenging. Most of them hadn’t ran a mile before so it seemed daunting. When they did it they realised it wasn’t that far and the enthusiasm has grown day by day.”

It was not just children aged eight and nine taking part in the project which will be showcased at the RDS Primary Science Fair. The school dog – a cocker spaniel named Elsie – also joined in the fun.

Mr Beacom said: “Elsie was introduced this year as a behavioural dog to work with different children and encourage them, help them engage a bit more.”

The ‘mile a day’ project at Elmgrove came about after Eastside Learning highlighted the RDS Science Fair to the school and encouraged them to take part.

Mr Beacom said that while he had hoped the project would produce positive results, he was pleasantly surprised by just how much his pupils had improved in terms of concentration and enthusiasm.

P5 pupil Emma, nine, said: “I like being outside. It’s nice to have fresh air. I think it helps when we do the test as we’re more relaxed.”

Classmate Charlie, also nine, commented: “I love going outside for a run, especially when it’s sunny. I think my test marks have got better since we started running.”

The RDS Primary Science Fair is the biggest science fair across NI and ROI and this year’s two-day event at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall on June 6 and 7 will bring together over 1,500 key stage 2 pupils to display their creative science investigations.

It is not just open to schools taking part. RDS is contributing £75 towards schools booking to visit the fair via www.primarysciencefair.com