Assessing the Power of Exercises with Sensors

Subject Area(s)

Life Science


Science and Technology

Computer Science

Associated Unit

Enhancing Health - Sensors in Wellness, Health, and Medicine

Associated Lessons

Associated Activities

Grade Level: 6 (5-7)

Time Required

45 minutes

Group Size

5 groups @ ~3-5 per group  

Expendable Cost Per Group

1-5 Garmin Forerunner 305 heart rate sensor & logging devices @ ~$200

Total: about $200 - $1000


This exercise activity focuses on using sensors to determine the most "powerful" exercises in terms of which have the biggest impact on heart rates. Students start with observing and practicing a variety of exercises and then formulate a hypothesis that predicts which exercise will have the greatest impact on heart rate. Next, students work together to identify the independent variable, dependent variable and constant variables for the inquiry. Students conduct the experiment in teams and use heart rate monitors to measure their heart rate during each exercise. Students record data and analyze the graphs to generate results. They form and write up their conclusion in which they interpret whether their hypothesis was supported by the results.  In addition, students create a health-related class survey and gather results.  Afterwards, they graph the data in order to qualitatively assess the measure of variability.  Then they calculate the mean to evaluate the measure of center for the answers to each question.

Engineering Connection

Engineers design technologies that are being used to consistently and reliably monitor a wide range of body conditions, from blood glucose concentrations, to internal temperatures, to heart rates.  By enabling near real-time feedback, engineers enable teams of athletes and trainers, patients and medical advisors, and other teams to assess the impacts of various actions and determine the best approaches for training and treatments.

Engineering Category

1.             Relating science and/or math concept(s) to engineering

Keywords: medicine, sensors, biomedical, heart rate sensors, health, wellness, treatment, monitoring, exercise, rehabilitation.

Educational Standards

Shawnee School District Grade 6 (2010) from Kansas Science Standards -

Prerequisite Knowledge 

Learning Objectives

After this activity, students should be able to:

Materials List

Each group needs:

Whole class needs:

Introduction / Motivation

This activity provides the students an opportunity to use sensors in a scientific experiment.

Vocabulary / Definitions



Heart rate

A measure of how hard a human (or animal) is working, measured in beats per minute


Global Positioning System - used by the exercise devices to track location during runs.



Before the Activity

With the Students

Safety Issues

Moderately strenuous physical activity is required for some participants.

Troubleshooting Tips

Information on Garmin Heart Rate Sensors can be found at:

Investigating Questions

“Which type of exercise will raise my heart rate the most?”


To evaluate the effectiveness of this unit, a pre-activity assessment is available that can be administered prior to beginning the activity and a posttest is available that can be administered after students have completed the activity.  


Pre-Activity Quiz

Pre-Activity Quiz with Answers

Post-Activity Quiz

Post-Activity Quiz with Answers

Completed Data Sheet

Additional Multimedia Support

Artificial limbs with sensors:

Smart pills that send you text messages to take your medicine: 

"Smart Pills" embedded with computer chips can help patients stick to their medication regimes in the future. The "Raisin" system, already approved in the EU, has a sensor patch on the patient's skin that communicates with the computer chip swallowed with the pill. The patch will send an SMS message to the patient's phone of they neglect to take their meds. (It's in Chinese, but has subtitles, so you can turn off the sound and explain. The graphics are worth it.)

17-year old creates cancer-killing nanoparticles:

Angela Zhang is, and she’s just been awarded the $100,000 Grand Prize in the Individual category of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. Her project was entitled “Design of Image-guided, Photo-thermal Controlled Drug Releasing Multifunctional Nanosystem for the Treatment of Cancer Stem Cells.”

Her creation is being heralded as a “Swiss army knife of cancer treatment.” Zhang managed to develop a nanoparticle that can be delivered to the site of a tumor through the drug salinomycin. Once there it kills the cancer stem cells. However, Zhang went further and included both gold and iron-oxide components, which allow for non-invasive imaging of the site through MRI and Photoacoustics.

Printing living tissues and organs: 

3D printing is a technique that is being applied to tissue engineering/regenerative medicine by a number of laboratories. Industrial 3D printers have been available since the 1980s and have traditionally been used for rapid prototyping. In the field of tissue engineering, they are being used to print living tissues/organs with the goal of treating disease and injury with the implantation of these organs. The advantage of this technology is the ability to produce complex geometries in implanted organs that are customized in size and shape to the individual. Someday you may have a printed organ implanted in you!

Implantable florescent glucose sensor:

How does the heart's conduction system work?  Electricity in the body

Heart beat animation video:



Install Garmin Training Center: URL may change:

Redirect URL


Denise Case, Northwest Missouri State University and Kansas State University, Lucas Shivers and Lindsey Burch, Bluejacket Flint Elementary.


© 2011-2016 by Kansas State University  and Northwest Missouri State University.

Permission granted for free use and distribution, conditioned upon inclusion of the above attribution and copyright notice.  This digital library content was developed by the Insight Program under National Science Foundation GK-12 grant no. 0948019. However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Supporting Program

Northwest Missouri State University, School of Computer Science and Information Systems

Kansas State University, Department of Computing and Information Sciences, National Science Foundation GK-12 INSIGHT Program

Classroom Testing Information

Pre-Activity Quiz

Post-Activity Quiz

Completed Data Sheet