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A Challenging PGS Extend Project

Fully grasping the opportunity to use her extended project as a stepping stone to university, Alex Jarrold, Year 13, asked if she could work with the Junior School Sports Department and use Junior School pupils to help facilitate her research.

Alex’s project was designed to see if an easily measurable set of physiological factors in Year 4 pupils correlated with their fitness levels and sporting ability. Starting her extended project in the early summer, before term ended, meant that Alex could spend time with the children in a PE class to take the measurements she needed as well as using data from the Junior School Sports Day on their performance. The pupils had their resting pulse rate taken, BMI, hand span and length measured, were asked to do a standing long jump and to undertake a peak flow test to measure lung capacity. “The pupils really enjoyed being tested and were brilliant” said Alex. With teachers’ help, the pupils also completed a lifestyle survey looking at diet, how they travel to school and if they are members of any sporting teams. “In hindsight,” said Alex, “the children were maybe a little excited to be doing something so different in PE, so the results may have been impacted slightly by that.”

Dr Mark Howson, Head of Science, put Alex in touch with Dr Heather Massey, a lecturer in the Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, giving Alex the opportunity to present her research to an expert in the field of physiology and sport. “Dr Massey was able to help as I could put all the data I had collected in to a professional statistical analysis program to help collate and correlate the statistics I needed for the project,” said Alex. “It was incredibly helpful and gave me some additional insight for my work.” Having been impressed by the presentation, Dr Massey has spoken to Alex about presenting her work as a poster at the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science conference next year. “It would be a fantastic opportunity,” commented Alex, “I just need to work out the timings as it may be close to exams.”

This could also be the start of a strong relationship being built between the university and the school. “Dr Massey is keen to continue working with the school in this area,” said Dr Howson. “It is turning in to a promising cooperation between PGS, both Junior and Senior Schools, and one of the best Sports and Exercise departments in the UK.”

Alex has now submitted her PGS Extend project and is waiting to hear the outcome along with all her Sixth Form colleagues.

“I really enjoyed working on this project,” concluded Alex. “Working with the pupils was a lot of fun and it was invaluable to have the support from the university. I hope to go on to study Physiology at university. A Levels first though!”

Note: Full ethical consideration was given to the study with all data collected kept secure and confidential. All parents of the pupils taking part in the study were fully consulted in advance and no individual was identifiable from the results.