Stepping into Wearable Fitness

pedometersThe Foundation at Great Valley is funding a teacher-initiated Venture Grant this year that is raising students’ awareness about health and wellness. Proposed by elementary Health and PE teachers, Dustin Kasper and Sam Ellis, the grant brings pedometers and heart monitors into Great Valley’s elementary schools and ties them not only to wellness, but also to math!

Students are wearing the devices as part of their physical education class. With regular goals and a focus on moving, they are quickly learning not only to get themselves moving more, but also how to encourage each other.

“The pedometer is nice to have,” said third grade student Amanda. “I can see how I’m improving!”

The grant proposal for this endeavor outlined six specific goals for students: increased physical activity; integration of mathematics; nutrition relevance; promoting healthy lifestyle; developing intrinsic motivation; and self-reflection and goal setting.

“We are using the technology to help students build an awareness about their own physical activity, and to prompt them to want to improve,” said Kasper. “In addition, students look at the number of steps they take from one class to the next and make comparisons. In some classes, we convert information into graphs to display students’ progress.”

Students have individual goals, but there is also a class goal that encourages them to work together.

“It’s not about competition or who can do the most,” said Kasper. “It’s about setting personal goals and individual improvement – and raising students’ awareness about the long-term benefits of exercise. In that way, exercise isn’t just something they have to do. Our hope is that they want to move more because they understand why it is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.”

And that goal is ringing true with students.

Third grade student Ben said, “Exercise helps us live longer!”

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