Heart Rate Monitoring: Experiment and Discovery

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    Students create a heart-rate monitor that they can wear during different activities. They use the device they created to conduct experiments and learn about their coronary system. 


    • Students will be able to:
    • Understand how heart rate relates to physical activity
    • Conduct experimental research
    • Develop tools for scientific investigation 
    • Practice the engineering design process
    • Understand how pulse measurements are taken by wearable devices, e.g. Apple Watch or Fitbit
    • Design a device with hardware and software
    • Use methods for processing data

    Required Prior Knowledge:

    Familiarity with technology is of help.


    • STEMgem kit with heart rate sensor for every (or every other) student
    • Some space for physical activity (classroom is fine; gym is possible as well if you want to connect bio and PE)
    • Internet-capable device for programming (e.g. tablet, large enough phone)
    • Stopwatch or timer (phone is fine)




    What do students already know about coronary circulation?


    Planning Investigation and Tools

    Discuss hypotheses and which experiments and tools are needed, e.g.:

    • Ask constructive questions and draw from previous observations to form a good hypothesis / hypotheses (e.g. I get out of breath when I run fast - why could that be)
    • Hypotheses: Physical activity increases heart rate; compare different activities / sports 
    • Need to measure pulse over extended period of time and record physical activity
    • Different physical activities to compare, such as sitting, walking, jumping, push-ups ...
    • How long will each activity have to be performed to get reliable results (e.g. 1 minute)?


    Engineering / Making

    Discuss engineering requirements, e.g.:

    • Measure pulse
    • Display pulse in chart

    Once everyone is on the same page with requirements: Go build!

    If students are unfamiliar with STEMgem, introduce them with example: connect a sensor & make an app that shows a live graph (see guidebook)

    Help students if necessary. The making should be completed in 5-10 minutes. If students are done early, they can use the extra time to customize their app and device.



    Guide students through their experiments with the different activities they have previously chosen to compare (sitting, jumping, etc.). Remind students to take notes of their findings.



    Students evaluate the results they have gathered and draw conclusions from them. Encourage students to engage in argumentation when resolving questions about their measurements and using evidence to evaluate claims. (If students are unfamiliar with evaluating or analyzing data, let them discuss results in groups of 2-4).



    Students present their results to the class. Ask students to discuss their reasoning. If any students have conflicting results, use these as an opportunity to discuss measurements and evaluate evidence. Encourage and praise good scientific practice.



    Students use worksheets to evaluate their progress towards relevant State standards or NGSS learning goals.


    Take-Home Assignment:

    Students document their design / experiment and result in writing and using photos and videos they took in a digital design journal on http://stemgem.co/ideas.


    SEPS.1 Posing questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
    SEPS.2 Developing and using models and tools.
    SEPS.3 Constructing and performing investigations.
    SEPS.4 Analyzing and interpreting data.
    SEPS.5 Using mathematics and computational thinking.
    SEPS.6 Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
    SEPS.7 Engaging in argument from evidence.
    SEPS.8 Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
    MS-ETS1 Engineering Design
    Crosscutting Concepts

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