Ty Riddick

World History  & Health/Physical Education Secondary Teacher  

Exercise Science - Gamified

Gamification is not playing games in class (although I do enjoy that as well). Gamificaiton is the applying of game-design aspects such as being individually customised, social, goal oriented and providing participants with the opportunity to level up and advance throughout. These aspects help students invest in their learning and ultimately serve the purpose of motivating them towards learning goals (perhaps without even knowing it). 

The below is a gamified version of my Human Performance unit as part of Grade 12 - Introductory Kinesiology (PSK4U in the Ontario Curriculum) or Exercise Science to the rest of the world. Although designed to work with the Ontario Curriculum, Exercise science is exercise science at the end of the day. You can make a copy of all of the resources I used in this process at the bottom of the page. It is the first attempt within a new curriculum...so be gentle. 



Students take the role of a person I'm sure each of you know. The person that would have gone pro if not for that "fatal knee injury" or would have made the big leagues if not for the "politics" of their sport (darn, coaches son). The determination to live vicariously through their child in hopes they can still experience future success coupled with advances in genetic engineering, students take the role of a parent who will genetically engineer a child to be a future athletic sensation. 

Task 1 - Genetic Selection 

Muscle Fibre Type & Distribution

Students (err parents?) begin by customizing their child through genetic egineering. They must select the muscle fibre type (I, IIA, IIB, IIX) in various locations in the body and justify the "natural" performance advantage it may give them. They begin recording this information on their athlete profile

Birthdate & Location

After looking at research related to birth month and it's correlation with performance as well as how environment (ex. altitude) may impact performance, students elect the birthdate and location for their child. 

Task 2 - Neuromotor Development 

Design an Assessment

How do students know their child is progressing properly? Students research the various stages of motor development and critical periods of skill acquisition and develop an assessment that they could use to assess their child's progress. The designed assessment must provide rationale for how it would effectively assess motor development.


Fortunately, in a K-12 school we have a lot of students to assess. In groups, students worked with other PE teachers and their students to assess motor development at specific ages.  I asked the other PE teachers to give students a gold, silver or bronze rating based on how well they worked with the kids and how effective they thought their assessment was. This rating was used for game purposes but not as a summative mark. 


As their child athlete progresses they are approached by sponsors and endorsement deals. Students who received the highest ratings in the previous assessment get first choice of sponsor each with a unique blend of cash and allocation points that can be used to level up fitness skills. (Examples right). 

Task 3 - Fitness Program Design 

Fitness Plan Design

Students learn about training principles related to performance, regardless of the principles you use, this part is fairly straight forward. Students design a fitness program for their individual athlete with the purpose of improving a certain amount of their 10 fitness traits (see athlete profile in resources). 

Workout Coaching 

We then discuss how exercises need to be modified for people with different abilities. They take one of the workouts they have designed and modify it for a Grade 9 student. Similar to the last task, they put the student through the workout and are given (by me) a gold-silver-bronze rating based on the quality of coaching they gave. Including correcting technique and motivation. 


Again, students who scored the ratings on the "Workout Coaching" task get first choice on their fitness coach. Each coach has unique benefits and vary in terms of their cost (they spend their sponsorship dollars). 

Task 4 - Team Draft 

Games are social! 

It is easy to forget that what attracts students to game is the social experience (i.e. online gaming). 

  • Depending on the class size (teams of 4-5) hand select students to serve as captains 
  • Post all of the up to date Athlete profiles on the board (or online somewhere easily accessible) 
  • Captains pick athletes for their team in a snake draft format (they pick based on the traits on the athlete profiles, not who the student in the class is) 
  • Once picked, students form table groups and will compete in teams for the duration of the unit. 

Task 5 - Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Drugs

Nutritional Plan Design

Again, fairly straight forward. Students learn about nutrition principles and their impact on performance. Students design a nutrition plan for their athlete and rationalise the macronutrient ratio they have established based on the how they feel it will benefit performance of their athlete. 

PED Research & Auction

I provide students with a list of common PEDs, in their groups they must research the effects of these PEDs and establish a relative ranking between 1-10 in terms of their proven effectiveness on performance. Research is recorded collaboratively on a Google Sheet/Doc. The key here is relativity, it is unlikely something like caffeine is going to have a 10/10 effect on performance and won't be as effective as something like HGH. Once research is completed there is a team auction for each supplement, teams can only purchase a supplement they have collectively researched. Teams spend their combined sponsorship dollars. 


Students receive the points they assigned to the PED in their research (as long as it is reasonably justified). Only 2 athletes are able to use each PED. *Legality will factor in later at the conclusion of the game. 


Task  6 - Technology & Training Aids

Training Aid Sales Pitch

Students take the role of a sales rep of an emerging technological training aid. They research it, assign a point value to a specific skill or fitness traits and in a brief presentation pitch it's effectiveness to their team as well as others. They then auction off the item and its point value to the highest bidder. The effectiveness of each aid must be grounded in research.


Students receive the benefit the "salesmen" who pitched it to them described. At this point teams have compiled their sponsorship dollars and decide as a group what to spend them on. Depending on the technology it may benefit all players of a team. (The effectiveness of the newly popular elevation training mask is one example).

Task 7 - Sport Psychology 

Establishing Your Achilles Heel

Students can either choose an achilles heel they feel they experience or choose one at random (example below). They must research how to overcome that Achilles heel. 

Team Sports Psychologist

Prior to the final competition, teams compile their remaining sponsorship funds to hire a sports psychologist who specialises in specific areas. In most cases, not every athlete will have their weakness accounted for by the hired psychologist which will play a role in the final competition. 

Culminating Task 

2044 CrossFit Games: Athletes will compete in CrossFit games, the events are unknown to the competitors in advance but will represent all of the 10 Fitness Traits and a wide variety of movements. The key to success in the game (and for evaluation purposes) is to apply everything learned in the unit to reasonably justify why themselves or their team would be successful in the specific event. 

Individual Competition Structure

  • Each team selects one athlete to compete in the individuals competition. 
  • The individual and their team member create a shared Google Doc which is made available to the individual competitor during the debate. 
  • As the individual debates, team members sent debate points and rebuttals to the Google Doc to help the individual 
  • At the conclusion of the 10 minute debate, the individual who justified their case most effectively will receive a score of 100 points
1st Place - 100 points 
2nd Place - 96 Points
3rd Place - 93 Points
4th Place - 90 Points 

Team Competition Structure

  • Team Competition is team v. team format, events are randomly selected from the hopper. 
  • Every team plays each other once followed by a 1 v. 4, 2 v. 3 playoff
  • Winning Team - 100 points 
  • Losing Team - 95 points 
  • With 4 people debating at each time, it can get a little crazy, best approach is to establish a time line of who would be winning at certain phases of the competition to eventually justify who would win. 

The Hopper 

*Bought a cheap one from Toys R' Us

The Balls

Their Meanings (Examples Below)

A numbered ball will correspond with a specific workout and will be the workout students compete (debate) in. Each numbered ball corresponds with a Google Slide # which contains the event and a video demonstration of that event 
A red ball (painted) will represent random drug testing, in the event this red ball comes out, anyone who has done any supplement or used a training aid that is illegal will be disqualified from that round of competition. 
The green ball will represent the achilles heel (psychology) playing a part in performance. It also includes other twists such as injuries. Students can defend themselves from these if they have previously hired the right personnel. 

Assessment & Evaluation

Assessment throughout the unit is on-going as with each task leading up the final competition students are demonstrating their understanding of content in different ways. Certain tasks like coaching younger students through a workout or conducting their neuromotor assessment are formative in nature yet are the assessments that determine how they advance in the game. From a personal standpoint, this has been done to ensure every student has the chance to succeed and aims to keep the same as "even" as possible, meaning that depending on what event comes out of the hopper, every team still has a plausible chance of victory if they justify their arguments correctly. 

The only major assessment I make during the Final Competition is the application of their understanding. As events are randomly generated students do not have time to go home study and prepare, thus I think it gives me a more accurate representation of what they actually know and are able to recall. 


If you actually managed to read this far (or just scrolled) all the resources for everything about are available here (click icon).

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