Eduscize Curriculum with IHT ZONE Heart Rate Monitors Enables Students to Significantly Improve Math Scores

Combining movement games with heart rate monitors has helped elementary students across Georgia’s second-largest school district improve both their health and academic performance during a global pandemic.

“Hopefully now we’re in a spot where we will be in a lot more schools,” Mableton Elementary School (Cobb County School District, Ga.) STEAM Lab teacher Sean Splawski said. “It’s been crazy to think we’ve done this in a pandemic.”

Splawski developed a curriculum designed to get his students moving so they are alert and ready to learn. As both a motivator and a tool to help students learn about heart rate, students wear IHT ZONE wrist heart rate monitors while they move quickly from station to station, combining fitness activities with games that reinforce academic skills such as math facts.

The curriculum – Eduscize – has been so effective in Splawski’s lab and other classrooms at his Mableton campus that the district authorized him to conduct proof of concept sessions at other campuses.

“In two short months, feedback has been really good and the excitement (from students and teachers) is really powerful,” Splawski said. “It’s amazing we’ve gotten this far.”

Motivating Students Through Physical Activity

Splawski’s Eduscize curriculum dates back to 2017 when he read with horror a Johns Hopkins University study that made two disturbing conclusions:

  • The average 19-year-old was only as physically active as the average 60-year-old.
  • As many as 75% of adolescents were not meeting the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.

“I thought right then that we needed to do something about that,” Splawski said.

Splawski began creating subject-based games for his STEAM lab students to play while they also performed physical activity. Having seen a demonstration of the IHT ZONE heart rate monitors, Splawski worked with Mableton’s physical education department to purchase a set to use between his lab and the PE teacher’s gym space. The students’ response to playing his games while wearing the heart rate monitor exceeded even his wildest expectations.

“The first time I put the heart rate monitors on students, I saw something amazing,” he said. “When they are moving, they aren’t afraid of learning. They are not afraid of math. They are just doing it.” 

Splawski saw the IHT ZONE heart rate monitor as a key component to helping students achieve moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels while the games continued to build students’ academic strengths. The heart rate monitors provide students with real-time feedback, including changing colors to indicate which heart rate zone they are exercising in -- yellow for moderate activity and red for vigorous activity. 

“They were in a full sweat and kids were reaching 200 beats per minute while solving math problems because they wanted to ‘win’ the games,” Splawski said.

Students did more than win their games. They increased their academic achievement as well. Splawski's research showed his students improved their math scores by 7% this year. Initial feedback from teachers who began using Eduscize and the IHT ZONE in 2021 indicates other students increased their scores as well.

Expanding Across Georgia’s Second-Largest District

When district leadership saw the results Splawski got using the curriculum and heart rate monitors in his lab, they saw the value for other teachers. Dr. Sally Creel, the district’s STEM and Innovation supervisor, found Splawski’s early results encouraging and provided funding for Splawski to expand his program to other campuses.

Splawski delivered training and sets of his Eduscize games and IHT ZONE heart rate monitors to teachers in each grade at Mableton and then worked with teachers at both Acworth Intermediate and Clarkdale Elementary schools. By the end of the year, more than 2,500 students in 100 different classrooms on the three campuses had been introduced to Splawski’s model and used the heart rate monitors. Students in other Mableton classrooms and at the additional schools mirrored what Splawski saw in his lab.

“We’ve seen 100% engagement,” Splawski said. “Kids can’t get enough of wearing the heart rate monitors.”

The results proved so encouraging that the district added Splawski’s Eduscize and IHT ZONE combination to its Summer Learning Quest Program. Held at five different campuses, the Summer Learning Quest program includes math, STEM, SEL and health and PE. Students will take part in Eduscize lessons with the IHT ZONES in 30-minute time blocks multiple times each week.

Using Movement to Drive Overall Development

Active -- kinesthetic -- learning is not a new concept, but Splawski’s dedication to that teaching style is taking hold in his district, and leadership has noticed.

“The district funded it after seeing the research that this would improve achievement,” Splawski said. “My administrators had seen it, and everyone knew what we could accomplish.”

What are they accomplishing?

Splawski conducts an after-school program with students from different grades. He noticed that some students were grasping concepts beyond their grade level.

“Students are learning things super-fast,” he said. “We have fifth-grade students teaching third-grade students fifth-grade concepts, and the third-graders are getting it.”

The feedback he received from colleagues at Acworth and Clarkdale helped prove his concept. Students not only learn more during his sessions, they retain what they learn longer.

“The teachers got some great feedback,” he said. “Kids made connections to national standards. They are building neural connections faster because they are moving. After a 45-minute lesson, kids are able to recap what they learned. It’s amazing that they are picking things up that fast.”

With schools across the country needing to make up for lost time, Splawski believes his strategy can help do just that.

“This can be a resource for every school who needs to make up for lost learning time,” he said. “I think every student and teacher has limitless potential. We just have to have a willingness to innovate and adapt.”

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    Students Thrive in Movement-Based Curriculum Motivated by Heart Rate Monitors
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    Students Thrive in Movement-Based Curriculum Motivated by Heart Rate Monitors
    Getting students active with game-based learning and IHT ZONE heart rate monitors results in improved math scores.
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