Disclaimer: The first time I completed this lesson I had 60+ middle school students.
I came upon the iPad app, Vital Signs by Philips from a few referrals on twitter. The app will use the camera and detect you heart rate and breathing rate. I immediately thought it looked great and was skeptical at the same time but had no problem spending the .99 cents to test it out.
I tested it out on myself, worked great. I knew there would be accuracy issues, but it was more about awareness to teach to the students. I wanted to get them to associate exercise and heart rate. When I test body fat I know there are accuracy issues but the kids still become aware of body fat % and how it relates to their health. Same principal.
The lesson I had prepared had a station that was strategically placed after a very exhausting exercise station to try and elevate the heart rate as much as possible. The app will take a picture after the test is completed with the results stamped over the picture. I was going to give an award to the person who recorded the highest heart rate. I thought it would be a great incentive to get the kids to work a bit harder, and to try and get their heart rates up. After class, I would go through the pictures and then pick out the highest heart rate. I wanted to print the picture, and give a water bottle to the winner. I thought it would be a great representation of my PE program if a student took that picture how to their parents and told them about what the learned in class.
Well, here is what happened.
I give a great brief lecture and have the kids pumped up (it wasn’t all bad). I had a projected image of me taking the test myself that must have been 20 ft tall. That was pretty awkward I must say. But it worked perfectly. Then I have the students start the station training. First student, heart rate in the forties, huh?. Next student, same thing, what? The pattern continued. Some tests actually yielded no results. The tests were taking about 15-20 seconds at a time, which is an eternity in this circumstance. Now I have accumulated a group of kids very excited to try it out. Since it is taking so long, students who should have rotated to the next station are waiting around, new students are rotating in. I am allowing the stations to run too long which allow kids to get off task. By now you can see what I mean. I abandon the iPad and salvage the rest of the station lesson.
It is my opinion that the lighting in the gym caused the problems that I had. Kids were also standing up while taking the test and maybe moving just a bit. Before incorporating the app into the station lesson again, I will certain do some trial and error and see if I can find a place in the gym that will give accurate results. Since it takes awhile, I would like to have 3 or 4 ipads set up at a station so that all students could get tested at the same time. I also have the handheld heart rate monitor. It might be good to have it out so kids could use that if they cannot use the iPad app.
All in all, students still received the awareness that I had planned for, yet, i think they were disappointed that things did not work out as I had planned. But, I just tell the kids, my apologies, and thank them for allowing me to experiment with new tools and not being totally overwhelmed and off task. They are middle schoolers by the way.