Chris Mekelburg Discusses How He Uses Heart Rate Technology In His Lessons

As an elementary school physical educator having students understand the importance of movement and activity is at the heart of my curriculum. Beginning in third grade students are introduced to tracking their steps throughout the day and more specifically while in physical education class. Traditionally I have used a simple pedometer for each student. Throughout the class students will learn stride length, daily goals and activity step goals. Students are encouraged to obtain 10,000 steps per day and 2,500 steps during my Physical Education class. In the past it was a time consuming task to hand out, collect and record all students’ steps at the end of a class or at the end of a day. When using steps during P.E. class, the Heart Tech Plus optical sensor is worn on the students arm and step data is collected real-time in the group system. A teacher and/or the students could track simultaneously their steps and adjust the lesson or activity intensity at any time. The Heart Tech Plus system has revolutionized this content for my students and has allowed for a seamless collection of student step data, regardless of in-person or remote learning. The Heart Tech Plus System is the first and only physical education technology that provides both step and heart rate data from the same device and to the same data management platform. This platform meets the level of encryption and security for student data privacy which is now at the forefront of educational technologies.


The use of the Heart Tech Plus platform for heart rate monitoring begins in grade four and is embedded in the content knowledge around the 20-meter shuttle run. Every time students partake in any standardized cardio test they wear the Heart Tech Plus optical heart rate monitors which are linked to the group system. The group system allows me to real-time monitor my class sizes of forty – five students and make lesson adjustments, based on objective student data. This student data, at the completion of the class, is automatically uploaded to the encrypted web-portal for later review. This web-portal allows the teacher to analyze data at the school, grade and student levels. This allows for the assessment and review of both short and long term data. The use of the system during the cardio tests allows the teacher to objectively collect a students ambient and maximum heart rate. Once these numbers are collected the system can be set to individualize each student’s experience with their heart rate and step data.  When students enter the fifth grade they now have both an ambient and maximum heart rate that we can compare after they participate in the new cardio test. Students will then utilize the heart rate monitors in about half of the school years content units. These units are designed to maximize activity time to meet the SHAPE recommendations of 50% of class time dedicated to moderate to vigorous physical activity. The use of the HRM is the only way to objectively assess a students level of effort and engagement throughout the lesson. Student objective data is a great way to prove a program’s impact and provide students with the individualized learning tools to take the learning home into their communities. 


Using the Heart Tech Plus optical heart rate system has allowed for an increase of activity time and a decrease in transition time. These two factors are key in the flow and learning of content during a lesson. This system with its current additions of the HTP @Home  Phone Application has now allowed for the students to take their learning home in the privacy and safety of their own space. The collection of this data in a remote learning environment now allows for an educator to apply the lesson design framework of MVPA into a remote setting. 


Chris Mekelburg Ed. D. 


Adelphi University Adjunct Professor

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