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Bodies in Motion

By Anne H. Bogardt

Type of Entry:

  • Project

Type of Activity:

  • Hands-on activity
  • Inquiry lab
  • Authentic assessment
  • Group/cooperative learning

Target Audience:

  • Life Science
  • Biology
  • Advanced Biology
  • Integrated Science, Any Level
  • Special Needs (gifted, LEP, RSP)

Notes to Teacher:

This project is one that can be very rewarding, but it does have the potential for problems if sensitivity and confidentiality are not maintained. I suggest that guidelines as to project1s objectives be written and distributed to parents for their information. There should also be a permission slip that parents, teacher, and student sign agreeing to these guidelines. Take some time prior to beginning the project to inform prospective project participants about the activity and why it would be interesting and fun for them. You want as many students as possible (and that your team can handle). Equipment may be difficult to find or buy. Measuring tapes and cheap calipers (Science/Kit Boreal) are available. The important point is that the students are measured with the same methods and instruments each time. The project is interested in documenting change over time.

Required of students:

Students who will be making the measurements are required to be sensitive to each student and not make inappropriate remarks about that student. They are also required not to take information gained during measuring and tell other students. My measuring students were juniors and seniors from my Chemistry class. Students should come to school on the measuring day with shorts and T-shirts. This attire facilitates the measurement sessions while placing the student at ease.

Preparation time needed:

A permission slip and information packet need to be drafted prior to beginning the activity. A recording sheet for the measurements used in the study should also be drafted before beginning the project. Measuring students should have at least a week to measure each other several times until they feel comfortable with the measurement and they can replicate the measurement on the subject. Scales will need to present in the room where measuring will take place. We had the nurses scales brought to my room. Finally, I would talk to the target audience of students and pitch the project. This could take place near the beginning of the year and right before beginning the project.

Class time needed:

The measuring sessions will depend on the number of participants you have. Our team of fifteen measurers measured 70 students in 2 days taking 2 1/2 hours each day. This process is repeated at the end of the year. We have block schedule and the math teacher and I combined our back-to-back blocks for the measuring sessions. Time in class will also be needed for compiling the data, analyzing it, and preparing graphs in order to explain the results to students.


The "Bodies in Motion" project includes statistics, biomechanics, sports, growth and development, and kinematics, the study of how the human body moves in space. Students will develop the protocol and receive training in the measurements to be taken for this project. These students will select a sport and form study teams with students from grades 7 to 10. The measurement of stature, leg and arm lengths, and estimates of body fat will be made in these study teams during science class while the data entry and statistical analyses will be completed during math or science class. Data collection, data analysis and interpretation, the mechanics of movement, and the application of technology to math and science are areas that will be emphasized in this project.


What question does this activity help students to answer? This project addresses how human bodies grow and develop over time and how this growth affects sports performance. Students are curious about they grow especially in relationship to their peers. This project builds upon this curiosity and allows the students to explore these questions in a structured and guided manner.



  • tape measures (in centimeters)

  • skinfold calipers (Science/Kit Boreal)

  • stature chart (Science/Kit Boreal)

  • medical or bathroom scales

  • metersticks

  • human skeleton, for reference (if not available, an anatomy chart will do)

  • spreadsheet software (Excel, Claris Works)

  • statistical software (StatView�)

  • Measurement in Motion� software

  • video camera with tripod

  • computer (AV Mac, if possible)


  1. Guided design of project: School year begins with students identifying different anatomical landmarks and then designing a project to assess growth over a six to eight month period. Students will work in teams and train in the methods of anthropometry, the measurement of the human body. These activities require calipers or measuring tapes, metersticks, skinfold calipers, and human skeleton.

  2. Measuring: Students select measurements to be made, design data recording sheets, and the teams make measurements on students . These activities require paper, pencils, spreadsheet software, computers, calipers, metersticks, and skinfold calipers. Measurements illustrations are given in a graphical manner on the next page.

      Measurements used include;
    • Stature or height
    • Biiliac diameter
    • Arm length, left and right
    • Head circumference
    • Sitting height
    • Wingspan
    • Triceps skinfold
    • Biceps skinfold
    • Biceps girth, right and left, both flexed and relaxed

  3. Data entry: Students enter the data in spreadsheet. Requires software and computers.

  4. Statistical Analysis & Interpretation: Students analyze data to gain summary statistics and then develop hypotheses to test with inferential statistics. This requires computers, and statistical software (StatView�).

      Statistics used include:
    • Mean
    • Standard deviation
    • Percentiles
    • Student1s t test
    • Analysis of variance

  5. Videotaping: Students will videotape other students during sports practice for motion analysis and assessment. Students have the option of using reflective tape at the joints and key anatomical landmarks for motion analysis using Measurement in Motion� software. Requires reflective tape and a video camera equipped with tripod.


  6. Motion Analysis: Videotape will then be digitized using the 7100 AV Macintosh and Quicktime 2.0. The reflective landmarks will be used to measure the angles of knee, shoulder, and elbow joints and the position of the body during the sports activities. These video clips will then be imported to Measurement in Motion� to give an image of the student in motion. Comparison of a student1s movements over time will be made with this software to provide assessment of their technique. These activities require Measurement in Motion� software and 840 AV Mac.

Method of Assessment/Evaluation

Students will prepare a summary of how their body changed over the school year and graphs and summary statistics will be used to document the change. Video clips may also be included in this summary. The student will present their summary to their class (or the teacher, if they are shy).

Extension/Reinforcement/Additional Ideas

The motion analysis using Measurement in Motion� software can be considered an extension to the growth and development project. This is a comprehensive project that a teacher might want to implement in stages, beginning with the growth and development study, then implementing the motion analysis on sports movements the next year. It depends on time and resources available. Another extension is the design of clothing or shoes. Students can investigate what measurements are used in the design of clothing and how clothing manufacturers use human measurements to come up with clothing sizes or shoe sizes.

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