activity page will offer:
into understanding blood pressure
exploration of how stress may affect blood pressure
opportunity to better understand stressful situations
In this activity, you'll learn how to take and interpret blood pressure.
You'll also explore how thinking about a stressful situation may
elevate these parameters. Since we'll be using over-the-counter
measuring devices, the pressures won't be continually monitored.
Instead, you'll have to take separate and distinct measurements
following the changing mental state of the subject.
- Work with a partner. Discuss the concept of blood pressure.
Access the URLs cited above to learn more about systolic (beating)
pressure and diastolic (resting) pressure.
- Following your teacher's instructions, use your digital blood
pressure device to obtain the blood pressure and pulse rate of
your partner (the subject). Make sure that the subject understands
the procedure and is relaxed about what will happen.
- Wait a few minutes. During this time, encourage your subject
to relax even more. Discuss restful images. Have the subject close
his/her eyes and recite the word "calm." Encourage them to deep
breathe and relax as much as they can.
- Take another blood pressure reading and pulse rate. Record these
- Now, for the next few minutes, have the subject think of a
stressful situation. Discuss the situation with the subject. Encourage
the subject to discuss the stressful emotions associated with
- Obtain another blood pressure reading and pulse rate. Record
- Exchange roles and repeat steps 3 through 6.
- What do the two numbers represent in blood pressure readings?
- Do any of the mood role-playing events affect blood pressure
and pulse rates? If so, explain.
- Was there a significant (and repeatable) change in blood pressure
and/or pulse rate following the relaxation and stressful periods?
If so, explain.
Do you think that your stress levels change during the day? If so,
how? Then, create an experimental design that might explore daily
(and repeatable) fluctuations in blood pressure and pulse. Share
your design with your teacher. With his/her permission perform the
inquiry and share your results with classmates.
Stress chemicals may interfere with the effectiveness of thinking.
In fact some educational specialists believe that the stressful
situation of "testing" is counterproductive to learning. What do
you think? Are tests essential to learning or does the anxiety associated
with exam-taking compromise their value? Think of it another way.
Would you prefer going to a physician who scored well on the medical
licensing exams or one who never had to take these qualifying tests?
Write a stage play in which a person (you) have a dialogue with
an actor who represents the concept of Stress Use what you've learned
in this show to help shape and the character of Stress. The dialogue
should explore the intimate and dynamic relationship that an individual
has with this emotional state. With a partner, perform this play
for your classmates as a staged reading.
The release of the fight-or-flight chemical affects more than just
blood pressure and pulse rate. It can also change the way in which
you digest food. As scientists learn more about the intimate connection
between mind and body, we are appreciating how moods affect health.
Want to learn more about healthy living and the link between mood
and digestion? Check out the following Link:
Learning and Fight-or-Flight
your body is under the stress of fight-or-flight, neurotransmitters
flood the brain. These chemicals accelerate the rate at which new
memories are constructed. Think about it. What is the advantage
of an increasing the richness of this memory during stressful times
that elicit this response?
An American Heart Association site that includes a good deal of
information on blood pressure. It also contains a search engine
for locating articles on blood pressure.
A richly hyperlinked primer on the fight-or-flight hormone, epinephrine
An interactive primer on stress and stress management
Advisors for this Guide:
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland,
Gary Pinkall, Middle School Science Teacher, Great Bend Public Schools,
Great Bend, KS