Primary Thematic Units: STEM

Supporting the statutory requirements for the Areas of Learning of the NI Curriculum at Key Stage 2. Read more...

Norn Iron's Ordinary Heroes

A comic celebrating people who have achieved extrordinary success in the areas of STEM. Read more...

STEM in Minecraft

Pupils develop empathy for how people lived in Viking times by overcoming a number of problems encountered through everyday Viking life, in Minecraft! Read more...


Case Studies

Promoting STEM through the NI Curriculum

Making Learning Connections

STEM Innovation

CCEA adopted innovation as a tool that could be used by schools to bring about lasting change in terms of adding value to their STEM provision. Schools were given the opportunity to gain an insight into and discuss innovation in STEM education. Read more...

Assessing UICT through STEM Futures

This case study shows a good example of how careful selection of curriculum material leads to work which satisfies several statutory requirements at once. Read more...

STEM Heroes

Schools across Northern Ireland had the opportunity to celebrate and share STEM Heroes in their local community. This booklet gives a summary of some of the exciting work that was carried out by pupils in both Primary and Post-Primary schools. Read more...


Investigating Exercise and Fitness



The purpose of this session was to improve pupils’ knowledge, understanding and skills in relation to the effects of exercise on the human body. In this activity pupils worked in pairs to examine the relationship between a person’s heart rate and exercise. Pupils measured their heart rates before and after exercising on a bicycle and used a data logger to record their results. The results generated from this investigation became the focus of a Maths activity.

Learning Intentions

Pupils will be learning about:

  • the anatomy and physiology of the heart and lungs, oxygenation of the blood and the cardiovascular system;
  • heartbeat, heart rate, breathing rate, lung capacity and the effects of exercise;
  • indicative factors for maintaining heart health; and
  • use of a data logger to record readings over time.

Pupils will be able to:

  • collect and record a series of readings of heart rates and breathing rates, at rest, during exercise and immediately after exercise; and
  • make the connection between their diet, lifestyle and personal history and heart health.

Success Criteria

Success criteria for this activity should be agreed between pupils and teachers in advance, for example:

  • Pupils will collect and record a set of heart rate measurements using a data logger.

Key Questions

  • What are the main factors that affect having and maintaining a healthy heart?
  • How does lifestyle impact on heart health?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?
  • What are the treatments for heart disease?

Follow-up Activities

  • Carry out online research into the work of healthcare professionals.
  • Research career routes associated with Sports Science, including nutrition, coaching, personal trainers and specialist training in specific sports disciplines.
  • Investigate the issues associated with different factors affecting heart health.
  • Draw up a personal training schedule designed to improve fitness in a safe and manageable way.
  • Compare and contrast the statistics for cardiovascular health from different countries.

Useful Links

Skills and Capabilities

If you are thinking about running this activity in your classroom, it is a natural place to spend time helping pupils develop the Managing Information strand of the Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities framework. For example:

  • Ask pupils to consider the strengths and weaknesses of evidence/sources in order to validate findings.
  • Identify ways of ensuring greater reliability. For example, within an investigation, take conscious steps to ensure reliability and accuracy and take into account the effect of measurement error margins on the reliability of their evidence.
  • When researching information, give reasons why their sources are the most reliable.

Guidance on skills and on the infusion approach are available at

Curriculum Links

  • KS3 statutory requirements for Science (Organisms and Health and Force and Energy).
  • Depending on how the activity is structured and developed it could be used to emphasise key messages around Personal Health.