One of the key features of the Fitbit is its ability to track activity and sleep. It tracks heart rates (raw data) using the PurePulse technology and uses this information to drive some of its Fitbit features such as resting heart rate, cardio fitness level, heart rate zones and guided breathing. The Fitbit presents the information directly on the screen of the Fitbit and can also be accessed through an app on the phone, which provides more information.
How it works:
The PurePulse technology works by using photoplethysmography (which means ‘using light to measure blood flow’). Interestingly, blood absorbs green light! Thus, the higher the blood volume, the more green light is absorbed. PurePulse shines a green light onto the skin and uses light detectors to measure how much light is absorbed. The measurement will then be used to determine the number of heart beats per minute. With this data, Fitbit then presents users with important information about cardio fitness levels, real-time heart rate zones to prevent over-exertion during exercise and help users manage stress with guided breathing sessions based on heart rate.
Why it is beneficial for children:
Fitbit Ace 2, an activity tracker for children (aged 6+), is useful as it tracks children’s activity records for the day and encourages children to lead a healthier and active lifestyle. Using the app, there is a Kid View option where children can see limited data such as their stats and badges that can be earned if they reach activity goals. The Fitbit can also use heart rate data to track children’s sleep, which is an important aspect in children’s health and well-being.
The concept of data collection and presentation is linked to the SCSA Digital Technologies curriculum of ‘representations of data’ and ‘collecting, managing and analysing data’. Fitbits can be introduced and used at any year level and teachers can develop a deeper understanding of how Fitbit works with the older years.
The Fitbit (and the app) has a clear link to Health and Physical Education aspects of “being healthy, safe and active” (SCSA, 2016) across all year levels. The information that is presented will allow students to track their activity levels and with the reminders from the app to stay active, students may feel more motivated to increase their physical activity levels. As students can set their own goals, students are competing with themselves rather than with their peers. This is an example of differentiation.
Fitbit can be integrated into the Science curriculum especially when light is discussed for instance, Years 1 (ACSSU020) and 5 (ACSSU080). It can also be integrated into Mathematics to help young children “develop confidence with number sequences” (Year 1: ACMNA012) or in an English persuasive writing task (From Year 2 to 6: ACELY1671, ACELY1682, ACELY1694, ACELY1704, ACELY1714). For example, students can write a letter to their parents to persuade them to buy a Fitbit Ace – providing information about the Fitbit and its benefits. Provide student choice with the options of presenting their persuasive letter.
As shared by my group during the Micro:bit presentation, students can be introduced to coding with Micro:bits to make their own step counter! Developing, communicating and designing their own step counters are important processes and production skills in design and digital technologies. Upper primary students can be challenged to consider how technology affects society and the materials and technologies specialisations.
Depending on how the Fitbit is integrated into the classroom, it can be used as an example of modification or redefinition of the SAMR model.
Criticisms/concerns: Introducing the Fitbit activity tracker in the classroom may get students wanting to own one. This may put unnecessary stress on parents to purchase a Fitbit for their child. Also, the Fitbit has many other functions that may not be suitable for young children if they are not taught to use the Fitbit safely.