Do you like playing computer games? Here’s a STEM learning game where you get to be an equine scientist working on an exercise physiology research study.
Science Talk – physiology (fizzy-all-uh-gee): The study of how living things use air, pump blood, cool down, burn calories, and more.
You’ll be responsible for preparing a horse, running the treadmill, then conducting the follow up work in the laboratory. The game is called Exercising HorsePower and it was created by the Rutgers Equine Science Center.
Start The Game
To start, click on ‘PREP’. The first screen you will see is titled ‘READY?’, after reading the text click on the red arrow at the bottom right of the screen. The next window is titled ‘SET . . .’ At the time of this review the Treadmill Lab Virtual Tour was not working. Click on the red arrow at the bottom of the screen and you will be taken to the GO!!!! page. Click on the red arrow and you will be taken to the interactive HORSE PREP page.
The HORSE PREP page is where you select one of three horses to complete the game. Each horse has unique abilities depending on age and prior condition, which will influence its performance on the treadmill and results in the laboratory.
Run Your Experiment
Once your horse is chosen it is time to prepare your horse by putting on a halter, boots, heart monitor, and other equipment. Read through the Task List before you click the ‘START CLOCK’ button.
After preparing your horse with the equipment needed, it is time for the treadmill. Here, you will run your horse on the treadmill at various speeds while collecting blood samples to process in the laboratory.
You will be given a practice tutorial that shows you how to take a blood sample, turn on the treadmill and adjust the speed before you start the actual experiment.
TIP: When running your experiment, collect a blood sample at each speed and return each vial of blood sampled to its place at the top left of the screen. Then increase the speed to the next level required.
Analyse Your Results
It’s time now to take the blood samples to the lab. You’ll be asked to choose what you want to measure: total protein or packed cell volume.
- Total protein is used to help determine hydration status, among other things, in horses.
- Packed cell volume is used to indicate an increase in red blood cells needed to meet higher oxygen demands during exercise.
In order to complete each activity, you will use certain lab instruments and equipment including a centrifuge, refractometer, capillary tubes, pipettes, and a hematocrit card reader. A notebook is on the table as well. Click on it and you’ll learn more about the experiment and what you are researching.
- To seal a capillary tube simply touch it to the sealant on the table before placing the tube in its correct position in the centrifuge.
- Once a reading has been taken using the hematocrit card reader, dispose of a tube by moving it to the red Medical Waste container.
How will your findings differ between Lord Nelson, an unfit Quarter horse gelding over 40-years-old, and Snowdrift, a young, fit Standardbred mare? Then there is Frankie, another Standardbred mare between 11 and 20-years-old? How will she compare? You will have to perform the tests and find out!
Click here to play. Thank you Rutgers for this great game!
Take a brief tour of the Equine Science Center’s exercise physiology laboratory at the “Red Barn” on the G. H. Cook Campus at Rutgers University.