Grade: Elementary
Subject: Science

#705. How Does Your Heart Rate?

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Feb 25 20:06:46 PST 2008 by Jamie Rettke (Jamie Rettke).

Title: How Does Your Heart Rate?

Topic: Circulatory System - Exploration of the effects of physical activity on the heart rate, measured by pulse.

Science Standards:

Illinois Learning Standards

State Goal 11: Understand the process of scientific inquiry and technology designed to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.

o Learning Standard A: Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scientific inquiry.

n Learning Benchmark 11.A.2b: Collect data for investigations using scientific process skills including observing, estimating and measuring (p. 32).

State Goal 20: Achieve and maintain a health-enhancing level of physical fitness based upon continual self-assessment.

o Learning Standard B: Assess individual fitness levels.

n Benchmark 20.B.1: Describe immediate effects of physical activity on the body (e.g., faster heartbeat, increased pulse rate, increased breathing rate) (p. 66).

Grade level: 2nd grade

Student objectives: When asked, the students will be able to:

1. Correctly measure their heartbeats (pulse), within a "10 point" range, during performance of physical activity

2. Demonstrate an understanding of the effects of exercise on the heart through accurately recorded data and multiple descriptions of the effects on the body

3. Identify one reason why the heartbeat increases with different activities

Process Skills:

Observation - the students will observe the changes in the body, specifically the heart, while performing physical activities.

Communication/Recording - the students will record the observations as well as actual pulse rate on a worksheet

Measuring - the students will measure their heart rate, pulse, in beats per 15 seconds.


For the teacher:

Watch with second hand

A bell

Transparency of data processing sheet "How Does Your Heart Rate?"

For students:

Basketball (1 for each group of 2 students)

Student data collection sheets "How Does Your Heart Rate?"

Material preparation before the activity:

Make sure exercise materials and a large area are available for student use. If area to be used is the classroom, students should move desks to the sides of the room.

Make a transparency of data collection sheet for group discussion during closure

Motivation component:

Begin doing jumping jacks for a long enough period to where your heart beat increases. Begin to take your pulse and say to the students, "Boy, that really tired me out! What do you think that did to my heart?"

Leaning activities:

Presentation: (~10 minutes)

1. Demonstration: "Look carefully as I show you how to measure your heart rate, also called your pulse, by using only my two fingers." Identify the pointer finger and middle fingers as those to be used to measure pulse. Explain that the thumb cannot be used. Show area on wrist to measure pulse.

2. Walk around room to be sure all students can see the area on the wrist where the pulse can be taken.

3. Pulse should be taken by counting the beats for 15 seconds. Tell the students they should take their pulse two times to make sure it is accurate.

Guided Practice: (~10 minutes)

1. Ask class what fingers we should use to find our pulse. [pointer and middle]

2. Ask a student to come to the front of the classroom to demonstrate how to find his or her heart rate. Allow a variety of students to demonstrate how to find their pulse. This will enable them to help others if they are having difficulty. Some students may wish to place a small pen marking on their wrist so they can easily find the area again.

3. After the last student has taken his/her pulse, ask the class, "Do you think your pulse would be different if you were to exercise?"

4. Go over directions of data collection sheet with students.

Put your name on your paper

Predict what you think your resting heart rate will be and write it down.

Measure your resting pulse rate, then write down you actual pulse rate.

Write down your partner's resting pulse rate.

Predict what you think your pulse rate will be for each activity and write it down.

Tell students that after measuring their pulse rate, they should write down some observations they made about their body when they were exercising. [heart beats faster, breathing harder/faster, sweat] They should also write down one reason why they think their heart rate increases during exercise.

Independent Practice: (~ 15 minutes)

1. Distribute data collection sheet to each student.

2. Have students predict then measure their resting pulse rate. You may wish to do this twice to get an accurate reading.

3. Have students fill in their predicted pulse rates for each activity.

4. Explain to students that each partner will do an activity until the bell has rung, measure their pulse rate then write down their findings. The partners will then switch activities. {*Note to teacher: time students to do the activity for one minute. After the one-minute bell, tell students to get ready to take their pulse. Time them for a 15-second interval. Allow the students at least one minute before beginning the next activity to ensure an accurate reading}

5. During the one minute wait time between activities, the student should be recording observations they have made on the effects the activity has had on the body

6. Circulate among the room, assessing students and providing help as needed.


At the prearranged signal, students are to prepare to share their findings in a class discussion. Discuss the students' predictions and observations. Using the data sheet overhead, record some of the students' predictions and actual measurements. To do this, use the same ten students and record their predictions for each activity and their actual pulse rate. Once all data is recorded, ask students if they felt their predictions were accurate. Ask them why they were correct/incorrect. Ask the students which activity had the highest and lowest heart rates and why they think that is. [Highest - running/ lowest - dribbling basketball] Ask students, "Why do you think our heart rate increased with the amount of activity?" [To bring more oxygen to the body] "How does this relate to what we have learned about the circulatory system and the heart?" [Our heart has to work harder and faster so that it may bring oxygen and nutrients to working parts of our body. It is also removing waste such as carbon dioxide] {*Note to teacher: You may ask students about their breathing while exercising. This can lead into a tie-in for a lesson on the respiratory system}


1. Informal observations during independent practice (Formative)

2. Collection of data sheet (Formative)

How Does Your Heart Rate?


Dribbling Basketball Running in Place
My predictions
My partner's prediction
My heart rate
My partner's heart rate

What happened to my body, as I became more active?

What did I observe?

Why did my heart rate increase with exercise?

Student Data Collection Sheet

How Does Your Heart Rate?

Prediction for Dribbling ball

Actual heart- rate

Predictions for Running in place

Actual heart-rate

For which activity did our heart rates increase the most?

Data Processing Sheet


The purpose of this lesson is for students to see the effects exercise has on the heart. I chose this lesson to be a Direct Instruction lesson for one specific reason. Because of the selected grade level for this lesson, I felt the students would need guided training when learning to taking their pulse. At this point in most students' lives, there has never been a time for them to take their pulse. For most, this will be the first time and will need demonstration and assistance. Therefore, in this lesson the students engage in guided practice when taking their pulse.

The objectives chosen for the students correspond with the Illinois State Goals for Science and Physical Health. The students will be asked to engage in a form of physical activity to observe the specific effects it has on the heart, as well as the entire body in general. While doing this activity, the students will identify possible reasons why the changes in the body occur.

During this lesson, the student will use three predominant process skills: observing, measuring, and recording. Both observing and recording are invaluable to students, as both will be used throughout their science careers. From a scientific standpoint, this is what specialists in any science do. They observe an event and record their findings. The students will be asked to measure their heart rates by counting the number of beats (pulse) per 15 seconds. This time was chosen for grade appropriateness. The students may not be able to count for the full minute, or do the math required to calculate the pulse per minute. In addition, by using a fraction of a minute, this lesson could be a tie in to a lesson in mathematics.

The timing for each phase of the lesson averages about 10 minutes. This was done for the reasons of grade appropriateness. Students at grade level two have a restricted attention span. To guarantee student attentiveness, as well as motivation, each phase of the lesson is kept to a minimal duration.

The motivational content of this lesson is to spark interest in the students. By jumping all around, you will get the students wondering, "What is he/she doing?!" As you tell the students that the activity wore you out, you are getting the students to start questioning what effects it had on the body. Introducing the lesson in this manner may also motivate students to start asking questions. The students are now thinking before the topic has even been presented.

During the presentation, the teacher will demonstrate to the students the correct way to take your pulse. This includes using the pointer and middle finger being placed on the inside of the wrist. Although the pulse can also be taken from the neck, I felt it easiest for demonstrational purposes, if all students were getting a reading from the same place. I personally find it more difficult to take my own pulse from my neck. The instructor will take his/her own pulse by counting the beats for 15 seconds. The student will be asked to measure their heart rates by counting the number of beats (pulse) per 15 seconds. This time was chosen for grade appropriateness. The students may not be able to count for the full minute, or do the math require to calculate the pulse per minute. After proper demonstration, the lesson will move into the guided practice phase of the lesson.

While in guided practice, various students will be asked to demonstrate how to take their own pulse. First, the students will correctly identify which fingers to use as well as where to place them on the wrist. Students will then take their pulse. After a significant number of students have demonstrated their ability to measure their heart rate, the class will begin independent practice.

During the independent practice phase, the students will be working within groups of two. This will adhere to Vygotsky's theory that social forces are a function of cognitive development. Students will be able to compare pulse rates with their partners and possibly begin to see a pattern in the heart rates of various activities. Group roles do not need to be appointed. Each student in the group will be responsible for their own record keeping. Time will be kept by the instructor. The students will then take part in the hands-on activity. First, the students will predict and then take their resting pulse rate. This will serve for comparison use. Each student will then attempt to predict his or her pulse rate for each activity. Student A in each pair will run in place for one minute. At the same time, student B will dribble a basketball. After the set time, each student will take their pulse for 15 seconds, record their information, and switch activities. I chose the two activities for a specific reason. Running in place will raise the students' heart rate significantly; whereas dribbling the basketball will not. This will help students see the correlation between increased heart rate and increased physical activity.

The closure of this lesson has two specific goals. First, to act as a review to the lesson while stimulating prior knowledge. The students will be able to compare heart rates of other students in hopes to recognize the pattern that the heart rate increases with the amount of physical activity. It will also ask that students apply their understanding of the ideas attended to within the lesson. This is done by having the students identify possible reasons why the heart rate increases. Through student participation and questioning, the teacher will assess whether or not the students have a firm grasp on the concepts attended to and are able to move on to the next lesson. It will also behave as an encouraging factor for the students to extend their knowledge to other areas of learning. For example, this knowledge can be applied when learning about the respiratory system.

The lesson plan itself has been written up using Times New Roman, font size 12. The student data-collection sheets have been written up using Comic sans MS, font size 14. This was done for various reasons. First, Times is a more traditional text. Comic sans is less formal and more appealing to the students' eye. The text in the student sheets is also larger for ease of reading. During this unit, for all the student data collection/data processing sheets, I have been consistent by using Comic sans MS. This has been done so as not to confuse the students with varying text styles. Directions have been placed on the student data sheet to reduce the number of students asking, "What should I do?" Having clear directions on each student's sheet will enhance classroom management by reducing the amount of direction type questions. This may also increase student autonomy by allowing them to take ownership of the assignment.

Evaluations for this lesson will be based on various aspects. First, there will be informal observations made during the guided practice and independent practice. The teacher will note whether students are measuring their pulse accurately by placement of the correct fingers.

Second, the data collection sheet will act as a way to assess the students' ability to measure their pulse. For example, if a student said their resting pulse rate was five beats (per 15 seconds), the teacher would be able to ascertain that the student either took his/her pulse incorrectly or counted wrong. Lastly, the students' write-ups on their data collection sheets will allow the students to demonstrate their understanding of the effects physical activity has on the body. This will be done by the students describing their own observations during the activity. Therefore, students who are able to recognize the pattern that the heart rate increases with physical activity as well as identify possible reasons this happens, would have clearly met the objectives.

This lesson was written with Bruner's theory of the spiral curriculum in mind. Therefore, it may be altered to accommodate students at various developmental and cognitive levels. This lesson may also be easily modified to assist special learners in the classroom. This may be accomplished by providing more individualistic assistance, yet it will vary depending on the specific student.