Originally published June 6, 2017 by WDBJ News.

By Bruce Young

Summer School: it can include lessons in cooking as well as math. But this program has an extra lesson in physical fitness.

“We want to point out to them how important health is,” says Physical Education teacher Tasha Polly.

She’s doing it with a little device. It monitors the wearer’s heart rate, telling each student how hard they’re working. The Maury River Middle School is testing it as part of their grant-funded 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, with plans to have the whole school wearing them in the fall.

According to program coordinator Gloria Brown, “It gets them thinking: Wow, I’m not moving enough. Mine’s not turning a certain color and I need to get my heart rate up a little bit more, or: Wow, mine’s red. Mine’s in the zone I shouldn’t be in. I need to slow down.”

“And when they check it back in,” Polly says. “They actually get to see how many minutes they were actually in that activity level we set a goal for them at the beginning of class.”

And that allows phys ed teachers to customize their lessons to each student’s abilities.

“This is individualized for them so they can see: hey, I’m meeting what’s good for me,” Polly explains.

So whether they’re just heading to the next class, or headed to phys ed, they can get a readout of just how it affects their health.

“Actually showing them the data on their watch helps them understand it,” says Phys Ed teacher Vicki Black.

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