Science education specialists Classroom Medics gave some 150 Year 7 and Year 11 pupils from Deansfield Community School a taste of the training regimes endured by top athletes to provide an insight into how their body works and its capabilities.

Both groups got to take on ˜The Accelerator" sprint simulator, which enables you to race a virtual Usain Bolt and see how far behind him you would finish in a real race, plus record your peak sprinting speed. Housed within an inflatable, domed tunnel, its made up of a 10-20-metre strip of LED lights that flash in sequence at the speed that Olympic and World sprint champion Bolt runs and you simply race after the lights.

The Year 7 pupils (aged 11-12) experienced sprint starting/timing gates like professional athletes use, a Batak Wall to test reactions and peripheral vision, a Watt bike to test power output, plus state-of-the-art rowing machines  whilst they also recorded their jump height and distance with a special mat, measured their ball throwing proficiency with a speed gun and tested their flexibility and coordination in the Hexagon agility test.

The Year 11 students (15-16) workshop included invaluable data collection and analysis for their GCSE course work, via a VO2 max test as used by Olympic cyclists, an Ultrasound machine to monitor muscle fibres, recording an EMG from active muscles whilst bearing weights and monitoring respiration rates and depths before, during and after exercise.

James Hearn, Head of PE at Deansfield School, said: It was a real eye opener and the equipment and tasks they got our students performing were of a very high quality, which totally engaged and motivated them to learn about how their body works in various sporting situations. Not only this, but it was high tempo and fun.

The Accelerator was a particular highlight, giving the opportunity for students to race against the legend that is Usain Bolt and his actual split times in a cool tunnel. It really enables them to see for themselves just how good elite athletes are. Even at Year 7, we are prepping for GCSE and trying to make an understanding of physiology second nature, so the youngsters can actually explain how their own bodies work. The Classroom Medics staff were outstanding and able to break down information for them in a way that they understood and could use back with us in their lessons.

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