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Exercise & Memory by Jada and Maurna

We heard that exercise can make our brain work better, but we wanted to know if that was true. Maybe it could be the answer to getting good grades at school. For our DragonflyTV investigation, we asked: Can exercise improve a person's memory?

What did we do?
To make a memory test, we grabbed 25 different things from around the house and covered them up with a towel. Next, we asked eight of our friends to take a test. We removed the towel and gave them one minute to stare at the items. When the minute was up, we covered the objects again and asked them to write down as many objects as they could remember. Then we split our friends into two groups. One group played board games (Team Slack Attack); the other group ran an exercise obstacle course (Team Jumping Jacks). Meanwhile, we put new items in the memory test. After 10 minutes, both teams took a second memory test with the new items.

What did we find out?
We graded all the tests, giving one point for each correct answer. Then we made a chart that showed how each team's score changed. The Slack Attack's average score decreased by 2 points. The Jumping Jacks' average increased by 4 points. The improvement wasn't huge, but the team that exercised increased their memory test scores, while the group that sat still actually did worse on the second test. We thought that you'd have to exercise for a long time in order to really see the effects.

What can you do?
  • What's your favorite sport or exercise? Does long term exercise help you remember things better? Chart your physical activity over a few months and compare it to a memory test that you take every few weeks. Do your scores increase over time?
  • What else contributes to a good memory? Does diet, reading or listening to music help your brain work better? Design an investigation to find out.
  • Researchers have found that listening to certain types of music over a long period of time increases your attention and focus. What do you think? Try listening to classical music every day for a month and see how music influences your school work.
  • Use this exercise investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
Which of the following sports was never part of the Olympic games?

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