Science and Engineering of Athletic Performance Program Update 3

Categories:  Brenda Thomson, James Davis, John Drazan, Science of Athletic Performance

This past week was a mixed bag. We were visited by Professor David T. Corr on Monday, and Professor Shayla Sawyer on Wednesday.

Monday was a great success all around with each and every group getting their data collection system to work and gaining a much deeper understanding of the material. Dr. Corr floated to each group and students asked questions to get to the bottom of the phenomena they have been experimenting with. This seemed to really cement some concepts for the students. Everyone then took this into the engineering section. While past sections were a struggle, it paid off on Monday when every student group for the first time, got to see the fruits of their labor with working data collection.

Hopes were high going into Wednesday. Dr. Sawyer did a great job of explaining all of the different ways in which sensors are changing the NBA and demonstrating the importance of the program material to the field. However, the data collection portion of the day was a bit of a mess. The gym got so hot it changed the resistance values students had previously worked to calibrate, and consumed a lot of our valuable time. Additionally, students were hot and tired and wanted to sit down rather than run tests. One group broke their force plate, but only after getting the data they needed.

Bellow is some of the force plates and circuitry the students have been working on.
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Science and Engineering of Athletic Performance Program Update

Categories:  Brenda Thomson, James Davis, John Drazan, Science of Athletic Performance

This week did go much better than last week. On Monday we had a group activity, Science Of The Slam. Students hypothesized about athletic performance, and how they could judge if someone would be a good dunker. Everyone seemed reasonably happy and engaged throughout, and definitely learned a little about science and collecting data.

On Wednesday the kids developed hypotheses for their group projects. The participants were extremely engaged and came up with some good hypotheses. Each group verbally presented their concepts to the rest of the students, in some cases, overcoming chronic shyness. In the engineering section every group finished creating their H-bridge + amplifier circuits. Students were more engaged in the activity because they could see results being graphed on the computer screen, everyone was a little more prepared, and James was able to float to each group providing instructions.

Next week promises yet more learning and engagement. Students will be working on more physical components in the engineering section, and developing their own projects in the science section on Monday. On Wednesday we will test our theories and collect data. We also look forward to a visit from Professor Shayla Sawyer who is both a basketball player and an electrical engineer.

Science and Engineering of Athletic Performance Program

Categories:  Brenda Thomson, James Davis, John Drazan, Science of Athletic Performance

As part of the Summer Matters / Make A Play group John Drazen, Brenda Thomson, and James Davis have been hosting a summer program about how the scientific method and sensors / data can be useful to athletic performance and human health. In support of the program we have five awesome volunteers from other programs and departments. Professor Frank Lombardo, and graduate students Amy Loya, Andrew Watrobski, Elizabeth Capogna, and Max Winkelman have all graciously agreed to donate their time to teaching students. The program runs Monday & Wednesday 7/13/15-8/5/15.

The program is structured such that there are 6 groups, with 2 floating mentors (John in charge of science, and James in charge of engineering). Some days are group days when everyone does the same thing at the same time. Other days we split and rotate activities between science and engineering. The science section is dedicated to learning about human physiology and physics, while the engineering side is dedicated to building sensors to test hypotheses developed in the science section.

We’ve completed our first week. The program has had a few hiccups, with a miss communication about timing and rooms with Summer Matters on Monday. However, students still seemed interested and engaged. The group is broad and represents varied interests. Students got to know the RPI volunteers, and made goals about the program and got a great lecture from Joe Schoenleber about how science is playing a critical role in training division 1 athletes and has informed his work.

The second day also had some hang ups. Two of our members had prior commitments and the engineering side was a challenge for some. However, the floating mentors simply took on the groups in need of a volunteer, and students got through all that we hoped in engineering and some got father by expanding the pre-existing code. Students also conceived of and tested their own simple hypotheses on the science side.

Next week promises great things as Monday will be The Science of The Slam: an activity John & Max have seen very positive results with in the past. Wednesday will hopefully be just as good as we are going to practice the engineering side and work will yield more tangible results like measuring force over simply putting together circuits.