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Kinesiology Department Partners with Children’s Center to Study Motor Development Skills

Young child holding a ball in a gym

For the last seven years, the Department of Kinesiology has provided students the opportunity to get hands-on learning experience through a human growth and motor learning course and a partnership with the Boise State University Children’s Center.

Kines student teaching kids how to hit a ball with a bat

Spearheaded by Laura Petranek, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology, the partnership provides kinesiology students in the KINES 375 Human Growth and Motor Learning class an opportunity to observe children at the Children’s Center as they run, hop, slide, jump, kick, catch, throw, and more. This partnership benefits students in the KINES 375 class, as the course is geared towards topics about human movement that involves control and learning, as well as issues surrounding growth and development.

“Partnering with the Children’s Center at Boise State has been mutually beneficial for both the children at the center and the students of the KINES 375 class,” said Petranek. “This experience gives our students an opportunity to learn how to administer the Test of Gross Motor Development, which focuses on six locomotor skills: running, hopping, sliding, jumping, galloping, and leaping and also six object control skills: kicking, throwing, striking, catching, dribbling, and underhand rolling. Kinesiology students are able to observe and interact with children in an applied hands-on way that they don’t normally get to do. The collaboration additionally allows children to interact with other children at the center in a way they usually don’t, by exploring a variety of gross motor skills.”

little girl kicking ball towards kines student

“When these little Broncos get to join kinesiology students in the gym, the children feel a heightened sense of agency as they contribute to the older Broncos’ investigation,” said Heather Lee, director of Boise State’s Children’s Center. “Carrol, age four, from the Children’s Center even mentioned, ‘I am helping the big students learn about how the body works when I run and hop and stretch,’ she shared with a wide grin on her face. They feel the power of knowledge acquisition, and they get to respect their own bodies as awe inspiring biological engines. This is how we cultivate a community of joyful learners on both sides of the learning continuum that move and shake this world.”

“The opportunity to interact with the staff and kids at Boise State’s Children’s Center through assessment of gross motor skills allowed me to translate classroom material to the real-world; providing a meaningful impact on my learning for years to come,” said Nic Hunt, undergraduate kinesiology student. “A primary goal for kinesiology majors is to promote physical activity and create lifelong movers. By assessing motor skills in children, we were able to identify troubling movement patterns to create a better future for the individual by improving all dimensions of health, starting with their physical health.”

-By Taylor Music