Whoa! Is that a horse in my science class?
Wouldn’t it be more fun to study science while running a horse on a treadmill? That’s exactly how students and researchers learn all about the science of horses at the Equine Science Center at Rutgers University!
Recognizing the growing need to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, the Center recently launched Equine Science 4 Kids!. Trot on over and see what it’s all about now!
The goal was to create a teaching tool to introduce highly academic scientific research and concepts to budding scientists and young equine enthusiasts in a manner that is fun, interactive, educational, and intuitive.
Information within Equine Science 4 Kids! focuses on three primary areas of research: Horses & the Environment – detailing how horses and humans fit harmoniously in a clean environment; Exercise Physiology (“fizz-ee-all-uh-gee”) – sharing similarities in how horses and humans exercise, including measurements of total protein and red blood cell volume (PCV); and Healthcare & Nutrition – covering the odd things that horses eat (like hot dogs!), aging, and keeping horses happy and healthy.
“We take the latest scientific research and technology and package it in a way that young people can understand and use. Introducing youth to equine science at an early age can be a powerful force in attracting students to the field and preparing young scientists for successful careers,” said Karyn Malinowski, director, Equine Science Center. “A bonus for us is that, as a science center, we are advancing youth STEM education using the best models for human medicine – horses.”
Equine Science 4 Kids! is equal parts education and entertainment. Each of the three research areas will have a complimentary, interactive game, as well as information about horses.
“Fun on the Farm” was created as an illustrated interpretation of the Ryders Lane horse farm on the Rutgers University G.H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. The game features a “bird’s eye-view” of the farm and highlights several key environmental concerns on horse farms such as manure and nutrient management, weed control, fencing, and pasture rotation.
The “Exercising HorsePower” game depicts the Equine Science Center’s exercise physiology treadmill laboratory. The player has an opportunity to pick one of three horses to work with throughout the distinct levels of the game. The levels, which are progressively more challenging, represent the stages of a standard equine exercise study: Horse Preparation, Treadmill, and Laboratory. In the Treadmill level, players get to run their selected horse on the exercise physiology treadmill! Here’s a video of the real-life horse treadmill in action! Depending on the final score for all three levels, the player will earn one of three pop-up cards as a reward.
In addition to the custom-designed games, Equine Science 4 Kids also includes fun fact sheets (the Scoop on Poop, Feeding Your Horse, and Going Green) and FAQs in each of the three research areas. The mascot for Equine Science 4 Kids, Lord Nelson, has a blog, “Holy Hoofprints!” which provides anecdotal accounts of his mischievous antics, and offers a comical, real-life approach to the science of horses. Lord Nelson also answers any and all horsey-questions submitted by visitors to Equine Science 4 Kids via his email address: [email protected]. As a horse, he’s surprisingly adept at typing on a keyboard!
By creating Equine Science 4 Kids, the Rutgers Equine Science Center has developed an engaging way to reach two key audiences: kids who are interested in horses; and those that love science!
Want to learn more about equine science at Rutgers University, please contact Tiffany Cody at [email protected].
Stick with our horse theme this week and learn about horses and math at the same time at Horse Lover’s Math.