Get 'In the Zone' for Sochi
In the Zone kits were sent to every UK school and FE college in Spring 2012
We're counting down to some exceptional sport at the Winter
Olympics in Sochi, and have enjoyed watching In the Zone's
champion, Sir Steve Redgrave CBE, on Channel 4's 'The Jump'. To
give you some ideas of how to excite your students, here are some
suggestions for how to get In the Zone… in the cold! Brrrrr.
The background: We are warm-blooded animals and generate heat at
about 100 watts. We lose this heat through convection, conduction
and radiation. In extreme conditions, such as those in Sochi,
athletes need to minimise heat loss in order to compete
effectively. Cooling limbs means that muscle contraction and nerve
conduction are impaired, which hampers physical performance and
therefore an athlete's chances of a place on the podium.
Activity 1: Should I wear a hat to make my legs work?
Your students can use large sheets of paper to make physical
maps of their body's surface area. They may be surprised to see the
size of their head compared with other body parts. Given that the
blood vessels in our heads don't vasoconstrict well in order to
minimise heat loss, it is true that we can lose 50 per cent of our
body heat through our heads. So, your students will understand the
reasons for wearing a hat, including to keep their legs working in
Activity 2: Teacher demonstrates the impact of temperature on
In order to test the effect of cold temperatures on muscle
contraction and nerve conduction, you could try some fiddly
dexterity tasks before and after submerging your hand and forearm
in an iced-water bath. Ask your students to record how long it
takes you to do two or three tasks at room temperature and then
repeat the same tasks after submersion in an ice bath of 12°C for
five minutes (you'll need to keep adding ice to keep the
temperature constant). Tasks could include: tying your shoelaces,
peeling an orange, completing a small fiddly puzzle, opening a
tough plastic container, etc. You should see a marked reduction in
your dexterity, and you may notice some physiological changes
within your hand and forearm too.
Activity 3: Investigate your students' questions with your In
the Zone kit
How does the cold affect the body's resting heart rate? You'll
know that humans and other mammals exhibit a diving reflex, a
slowed resting heart rate, when their face is submerged in cold
water. Does the same happen in cold air? Use the pulse oximeter in
your In the Zone kit to find out. What are the effects of cold
temperatures on reaction time or breathing rate?
We'd love to know how your students have been inspired by Sochi
and what activities you've done in school. Do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Tweet us @inthezone2014 using #sochi2014.
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