Activities and Assignments  (Revised Fall 2017)
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Activities
        Activity 01 : Interactions with Elders
        Activity 02 : Grip Strength
        Activity 03 : Reaction Time
        Activity 04 : Age-related diseases
        Activity 05 : Controlling Aging: What Would/Could/Should Happen?
Assignments
        Assignment 01 : Life Expectancy

Activities:

Interactions with Elders: Activity 01
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Have the students interact with elders. Many arrangements are possible. Using different arrangements allows students to compare and contrast different situations and exemplifies the heterogeneity among elders. Here are some alternatives.

1. The elders may be (a) living independently in the community; (b) living with younger family members (c) living in assisted care facility; (d) living in a nursing home; (e) living in a chronic care facility or hospital.

2. The students may interact with the elders (a) as a whole class; (b) in small groups; (c) one-on-one.

3. The elders may go to the class or the students may travel to the elders. Elders may be found (a) in local organizations serving elders or geared toward elders (e.g., chapters of AARP, church groups); (b) at senior day care centers or recreational facilities (e.g., YMCA); (c) through college or university programs. (d) through Area Agencies on Aging. To find Area Agencies, go to AoA's State Agencies on Aging at https://www.acl.gov/search/node?keys=state+agencies or AoA's State and Area Agencies on Aging at http://eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx.

4. The interactions may be (a) planned to address specific questions or issues; (b) an open question/answer format; (c) a conversational format.

5. Students may spend time as volunteers at a senior citizens' facility.

6. After the interactions, have students discuss their experiences in class or have students write about their experiences and responses. If students interact with elders having different degrees of independence, disease, or disability, have the students compare and contrast what they observed and learned.

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Grip Strength: Activity 02
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Contributed by:
    Andrea Petho, RN,BSN,CSN,MA
    Nurse, Mahwah High School
    Adjunct Faculty, Ramapo College of New Jersey
                    and
    James Ascuitto, BS,MS
    Science Teacher, Mahwah High School
    Adjunct Faculty, Ramapo College of New Jersey

For the nervous system and its correlations with the muscle system, have students measure grip strength or other types of strength. (Measuring devices can often be found in anatomy and physiology courses and in physical education departments.) Subjects of different ages can be tested to determine maximum strength of one contraction, endurance with repeated contractions, or total work done over a specified number of contractions. If subjects compare the results between the dominant hand versus the non-dominant hand, results simulate young exercised muscles versus older non-exercised muscles. (Measuring the diameter of the muscles in each forearm may clarify the relationships between muscle mass, muscle strength, and endurance).

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Reaction Time: Activity 03
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Contributed by:
    Andrea Petho, RN,BSN,CSN,MA
    Nurse, Mahwah High School
    Adjunct Faculty, Ramapo College of New Jersey
                     and
    James Ascuitto, BS,MS
    Science Teacher, Mahwah High School
    Adjunct Faculty, Ramapo College of New Jersey
 

For an activity related to the nervous system and its correlations with the muscle system, have students measure reaction times. Two students partner up. One student holds a centimeter ruler vertically (at the top) with the lower end of the ruler between the thumb and forefinger of another student. The second student sits at a table with their wrist resting on the edge of the table. The first student drops the ruler, and the second student catches the ruler as quickly as possible between the thumb and forefinger. The distance the stick falls correlates with the reaction time.
The formula to determine reaction time:
t = the square root of 2d/a
where:
t = reaction time
d = distance dropped in centimeters
a = acceleration due to gravity = (980 cm/second squared)

Several trials can be done and an average reaction time determined. The data for students of different ages are compared either numerically or on a graph. If the students ages are similar, volunteer guests can serve as subjects of different ages. The expected result is an increase in reaction time (slower reaction) with aging. This procedure tests response to a visual stimulus (falling stick). As alternative procedures, have the subject close his or her eyes and respond to a sound ( e.g., tap on table) or a touch (e.g., touch on the shoulder) applied simultaneously with release of the stick. Also, students can use their non-dominant hand to catch the stick, or use a meter stick vs. a ruler. Explain to the students that this is a cross-sectional study. Discuss its benefits and drawbacks versus performing a longitudinal study of reaction time. Discuss effects other than aging that might influence the outcome (e.g., physical fitness, practicing the procedure, distractions, abnormalities or diseases such as poor vision or arthritis).

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Age-related diseases: Activity 04
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Contributed by:
    Andrea Petho, RN,BSN,CSN,MA
    Nurse, Mahwah High School
    Adjunct Faculty, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Each student gives a 10-15 minute presentation on a biological disease or a problem associated with aging. The student also submits a 4-5 page paper on the topic immediately after the oral presentation. Visual aids, handouts, and class interaction during the presentation are encouraged.

Assignments:

Life Expectancy: Assignment 01
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For an assignment outside of class, students are assigned to fill out one or more of the tests at the following sites.
Each site has a "Life Expectancy Calculator" that will determine the projected life expectancy of the test taker depending upon how questions are answered. It's fun to do and can also be a wake-up call. For comparison purposes, the teacher takes the test as a hypothetically "perfect" 20 year old male, then female -- then as a hypothetically totally "non-perfect" of each, then repeat the above as hypothetical 50 or 60 year-olds. Students compare these results with their own. Students can compare and contrast the types of factors used to estimate life expectancy among the sites, and they can infer the relative importance of each factor by entering different responses for a factor a life expectancy calculator. Students can compare and contrast different tests by listing the types of information requested by each test. Some of the tests also provide reasons why factors affect life expectancy.

http://visual.ons.gov.uk/what-are-your-chances-of-living-to-100/
        It has links that explain the factors considered in estimating life expectancy.
http://gosset.wharton.upenn.edu/mortality/perl/CalcForm.html
        Is includes alternative life expectancies if a person changes one or more of their conditions in the future.
https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/population/longevity.html
        It is very simple.
http://www.nmfn.com/tn/learnctr--lifeevents--longevity
        It is very simple.
http://www.dinkytown.net/java/LifeTime.html
        It is very simple.

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© Copyright 1999 - Augustine G. DiGiovanna - All rights reserved.
This material MAY be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in any data base or retrieval system ONLY under one of the following two conditions: (1) If no individual, group, organization, institution, company, corporation or other entity is charged for its use and only for use by instructors and students in courses where students are required to purchase the book HUMAN AGING: BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES by Augustine G. DiGiovanna, The McGraw-Hill Companies, New York, 1994 or 2000; (2) If prior written permission is obtained from Augustine G. DiGiovanna. .