Recently, the department began using heart rate monitors. Studies had found that teenagers meeting the recommended daily sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise saw cardiovascular and mental health benefits. After reflecting on data, which showed students across the world do not generally get enough physical activity at school, Simone had wanted to put the Pao School’s PE programme to the test.
The PE department therefore campaigned to the school to purchase a number of heart rate monitors. These monitors allowed the department to complete a study on the physical activity levels of students in both PE classes and CCAs. The data quickly revealed that the PE programme meets recommended guidelines for exercise, whilst providing solid information about the student’s energy expenditure and average heart rate.
The heart rate monitors have also benefited both the students and teachers through giving real-time biological feedback of the student’s heart rate and effort. As the students work out, their heart rate is projected onto a screen in the gym or outside on a tablet, allowing them to get accurate information about their performance. It is also a useful method to track their improvement over time. As this data is collected over several lessons, they are able to set personal benchmarks and compare their progress to their performance in earlier sessions.
The data can be projected on the wall in the sports hall
It has also changed the way teachers view the students. Before, it was hard to evaluate a student’s effort just by “looking at their face” or asking students to measure their pulse at the wrist. But now, in some cases, the data has shown that students who had previously appeared to be underperforming are actually working their hardest.
This in-depth and accurate knowledge about the students’ performance has also been used by improve lesson planning. The data is used by teachers and coaches to review the lessons they have taught, allowing them to review whether the students are engaged and are working at the best capacity. As they go, they can make necessary adjustments for based on this information – presenting an opportunity for the classes to be further refined for and more personalized for all the students’ abilities.
A few months ago, to compliment the heart monitor tracking devices, the department invested in more GPS technology that could be used to track students’ location in real time, alongside their speed and acceleration.
For the project, this GPS technology will be used in combination with the heart rate monitors, alongside a phone app which will collect data for each participating student. The students will continue monitoring their performance data over time, allowing them to identify fluctuations and trends in their own heart rate, speed, distance covered and acceleration.
Teacher helping a student wearing a GPS monitor
But, once they have the basic data, how will the students seek a deeper understanding of it?
In order to do this, they must look beyond sports to find the answers and borrow knowledge from other fields such as physics, biomechanics, and biology to analyse their sporting performance. The data is therefore being passed over to physics and biology teachers, so that the student’s raw data can be used for analysis in different scientific contexts. For example, in physics it can be used to learn more about Newtonian physics and in biology about cellular respiration.
The data will therefore provide a shared, inter-disciplinary, backdrop to a wider project – used to link multiple sciences under the common ground of sports. Importantly, rather than completing abstract questions to practise the content, students will be able to analyse real-world information that can then be applied in improving their sporting performance. This provides a much deeper level of understanding into the investigative and scientific process, from beginning with data collection to scientific analysis to personal application of the results.
Though the project is ongoing, the data is already bearing fruit. The students can analyse their performance and analyse the data. These methods are similar to those used by professional sports teams and high-level athletes.
An aspect of the IB Sports, Exercise and Health Science course is scientific investigation surrounding sports and exercise. In improving the school’s resources, the students will have a broader scope for their experiments, with professional level technology and a bank of data collected from previous students.
The PE department also hopes to outfit all students with these devices to allow them to monitor their own efforts and ensure they are getting enough exercise. These monitors will also have potential applications outside of sports, as they also can provide valuable insight into a student’s health during times of pressure and promote better mental health practises – in line with the school’s core goal of improving student wellbeing.
“I am so happy and privileged to have so many opportunities to enjoy sports at Pao School.
I cannot put words to describe how amazing the sports environment is here.
If you come to the playground during CCA time, you can see it yourself.
Almost every single member of this community is either enjoying sports or training very
hard and professionally to reach the best of themselves, and that view is truly amazing.”
---- Zaim (Y12)