High school students learn about biomechanics

Marjorie S. Miller
April 25, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — High school students interested in the science behind human motion got to see firsthand how it’s studied at Penn State.

In honor of National Biomechanics Day on April 7, the Department of Kinesiology hosted 60 State College Area High School students in the Biomechanics Laboratory in Rec Hall to showcase its research and facilities, in such areas as muscle movement and motion analysis. Biomechanics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems by means of the methods of mechanics. It studies animal, human and plant structure and motion.

Gopal Jayakar, a senior at State College Area High School, said he chose to attend the event because he is interested in applying to Penn State to study biomechanical engineering. As a volunteer who works with patients at Mount Nittany Medical Center, he said he was most interested in learning how muscles work.

“This event provides scientific explanations for what we learn in class, as well as hands-on activities,” he said.

The Biomechanics Laboratory at Penn State houses the majority of the faculty and graduate student research. The state-of-the-art facility is designed for the measurement and investigation of human motion in sport, health and disease.

For the event, the high school students rotated through four interactive stations, each one demonstrating different types of studies and how they apply to real life. Kinesiology professors and faculty led the demonstrations with the support of kinesiology students.

The stations included muscle-tendon architecture, led by Jonas Rubenson, associate professor of kinesiology; motion analysis, led by John Challis, professor of kinesiology; electromyography, led by Nori Okita, senior research support associate; and muscle properties, led by Steve Piazza, professor of kinesiology and professor-in-charge of the kinesiology graduate program.

Irene Kiroplis, a sophomore kinesiology major interning in the lab, said the demonstrations were interactive and provided the high school students with opportunities to use the lab’s instruments. She said it is important for high school students to see the research conducted at Penn State because it can help motivate them to pursue their passions.

“For some students, seeing what they have at their fingertips can be inspiring and help to start them on a path where they will be successful,” she said. “I hope the students were able to take away a valuable application to the material taught to them in class, and that they can look back on the experience and connect the dots between new problems and the demonstrations in the lab.”

National Biomechanics Day is a nationwide event sponsored by the American Society of Biomechanics. Its goals are to foster the development of biomechanics as a standard component in high school curricula across the country, and create synchronized celebration of biomechanics among all participating labs and other biomechanics facilities around the nation.

For more information about the Biomechanics Laboratory at Penn State visit sites.psu.edu/biomechanics.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 26, 2016