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School of Medicine




This pilot study evaluated the impact of the Katalyst curriculum, a fifth-grade experiential learning program, on students’ knowledge of a healthy lifestyle’s impact on body functions. Katalyst’s interactive curriculum spans two days and includes four, 60-min stations on body systems: cardiovascular/endocrine, gastrointestinal, neurological, and respiratory/musculoskeletal. Three schools were recruited, and two schools completed the intervention sessions. Prior to beginning the stations, fifth-grade students completed a 37-item questionnaire to assess knowledge and perceptions. Students completed the same survey at the end of the Katalyst intervention. Teachers at the school also completed a survey post intervention to provide feedback on the program. Frequency and paired analyses were conducted on student responses and summative content analysis on teacher and volunteer feedback. The School 1 completer (n = 63) baseline mean knowledge score was 66.2%. The School 2 completer (n = 47) baseline mean knowledge score was 67.3%. Following the Katalyst intervention, both schools showed a statistically significant increase in the mean post score to 70.3% (p = 0.0017) and 78.4%(p < 0.0001) at School 1 (n = 63) and School 2 (n = 47), respectively. Teacher feedback (n = 7) revealed that Katalyst was effective in meeting state educational health standards and teachers perceived that the students benefitted from the program more than “reading about the body systems in a textbook or health magazine”. The Katalyst pilot study appeared to improve fifth-grade students’ knowledge of body systems and health. Katalyst aligned with state educational standards and is supported by teachers for an experiential learning opportunity. The Katalyst curriculum could be a potential avenue for health educators in Appalachia.

Source Citation

Hagedorn, R. L., Baker, K., DeJarnett, S. E., Hendricks, T., McGowan, M., Joseph, L., & Olfert, M. D. (2018). Katalyst Pilot Study: Using Interactive Activities in Anatomy and Physiology to Teach Children the Scientific Foundation of Healthy Lifestyles. Children, 5(12), 162.


  1. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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