Physiology and Disease (PAD) is a Biology elective at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, Aurora, Illinois, which is a residential magnate school for students gifted in math and science. My PAD class is based upon student centered learning which has proven to be the best way to challenge students to take responsibility for their own learning. Students spend the most time on the cardiovascular unit, wherein they measure their heart rates, lung capacity and blood pressure before, during and after exercise, correlating their data to their understanding of neuronal controls. Students also build a working model of the mechanical pumping of the human heart. Although several such opportunities are provided in this unit for hands-on experiences in the laboratory and in the classroom, the intrinsic conduction system of the heart has yet to be modeled. Students normally measure their heart rate using carotid pulse or radial pulse while exercising. Digital heart rate monitors are expensive and not very conducive to re-use. Based on my previous experience with the mechanical heart models, requiring students to build models seems to correlate better with their improved understanding of the material. This prompted the creation of the arduino heart rate L.E.D. monitor project. Another factor that strengthened the necessity of an innovative lab that used their programming skills to model the electrical system of the heart, was the mandatory computer science requirement for high school graduation. At this time, students in my classes are currently completing the heart rate model prototypes and I plan to collect their feedback for this project along with any suggestions for improvement or modification. Future research is planned to correlate student understanding to modeling activities in the classroom, based on their work and that of upcoming classes in the course. The main purpose of this assessment is for students to engage their creative skills and take responsibility for their own learning. The evaluation of this assessment includes appraisal of the quality, accuracy and creativity of their monitors and the accuracy of their reflective correlations with the electrical circuit of the human heart. It is hoped to continue building upon this non-traditional method of modeling for other physiology concepts next semester, to further enhance student learning.
Innovations in High School Physiology: The Arduino Heart Rate L.E.D Monitor.
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