This student lab activity is on calculating human horsepower by using data from walking, jogging, and running up a staircase. Student calculations depended on three measurements. 1.The amount of applied force, in this case they were lifting their own body weight. 2. The displacement or distance that the force is applied, this was measured as the height of the staircase from the bottom step up to the top step. 3. The amount of time needed to run from the bottom to the top, measured in seconds. According to their calculations, students were able to generate a range of about 0.2 horsepower to over one horsepower for a very brief moment of time. The idea of horsepower as the effort of measuring work done in an amount of time is credited to James Watt. It is said that his interest was in part to help better describe the abilities of his steam engine by comparing it to the capabilities of the common workhorse.
While this measurement is the amount of work that a horse can do over long periods of time, humans on the other hand are only capable of exerting 1 to 3 horsepower in very short bursts. People are capable of exerting about 1/10 horsepower for long periods of time.