Dodge County school using new technology in physical education - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Dodge County school using new technology in physical education

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DODGE CENTER, Minn. (KTTC) -

It motivates kids, teaches them about wellness, and even makes classes more fun. Triton Middle School in Dodge Center is using a new technology during its physical education classes, and it is the first of its kind to appear in a school in southeast Minnesota.

PE instructor Shane VanBeek is using a heart rate software that displays all his students' beats per minute on his iPad screen.

The way the technology works is that each student wears an armband. The armband then collects heart rate data and sends them to a bridge device, which in turn sends the data to VanBeek's iPad, which is connected to a projector. 

The software has several purposes.

First, the software lets VanBeek use a projector to display the heart rates of his students onto the gym wall for all to see. "This allows everyone to see their instant feedback and how they're doing throughout class," VanBeek said. 

"If my friend's heart rate is lower, then you gotta encourage them to bring it higher," said seventh-grader Brekken Schlichting.

Secondly, the software provides a centralized place for VanBeek to track his students' progress. "Now, I got the hard data to say, 'Hey, your heart rate is not raising to the point we would like for participation. Let's go a little bit harder,'" explained VanBeek. "Sometimes, I have to tell a kid to lay off a little bit. Maybe their heart rate is getting too high or they're pushing to an extreme or they might do some harm to themselves. It shows me that it's time for them to calm on down and take a break perhaps."

Tracking his students' progress also helps VanBeek determine what grades to assign. "The higher your heart rate is going throughout class, the software accumulates points. Each day we set a goal for the students. If they do not reach that goal, they'll lose some participation points and that will affect their grade," VanBeek said.

The software also allows VanBeek to print the data out and send the reports to parents. "That software very easily to saves the data, transports the data, and lets me reflect back on it when it comes to grading time," VanBeek said.

The system is made possible by a grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program, a.k.a. "SHIP." You can visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information on the device.

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