London 2012. The Summer Olympics. A once-every-four-years phenomenon that attracts world-wide attention and participation. As we mentioned last time, the Summer Games are the focus of another team effort of NSTA, NBC Learn, and the National Science Foundation (NSF). “Science of the Summer Olympics,” is an online video series that explores the engineering behind the competition of sport. The series is available cost-free on www.NBCLearn.com and www.NSF.gov.
When asked what topics teachers would like more resources on, a common answer is “anything engineering.” We understand why. So we’re here to help.
The practices of science and engineering are distinctly different. The videos of the Science of the Summer Olympics series will aid students in realizing that science seeks an understanding of the natural world through a question about a phenomenon while engineering pursues a solution to a constrained problem through the recursive process of design. Engineers use the knowledge of science and mathematics as factors that influence the nature of a solution. In some situations, the practices of science and engineering overlap, but often they are not complimentary due their fundamental goal, process, and outcome.
This installment, The Impact of Jenny Simpson, focuses on how the engineering design process results in solutions that enable an athlete to perform longer at a higher level of competition. NSTA has developed two forms of a lesson plan connected to each video in the series. One illustrates the practice of engineering through design and a second illustrates the practice of science through inquiry. With these two forms, STEM teachers will be able to compare the practices side-by-side and use the version that best meets their needs. In addition, we hope that having the opportunity to compare and contrast the two forms in this manner you will come to better understand the unfamiliar practice of engineering and be more adept at duplicating the process authentically with your own activities.
As always, we are very interested in how these work for you in real classroom situations. Let us know!
–Judy Elgin Jensen
Photo showing close up of running track by HKmPUA.
Video: In “The Impact of Jenny Simpson,” Dr. Rory Cooper, biomechanical engineer at the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Justin Laferrier, a physical therapist in Cooper’s lab, detail the forces applied to the body when running and how engineers develop products to reduce the impact of these forces. One highlight is the anti-gravity treadmill, which does not actually reduce gravity, but supports part of the runner’s weight while running on a cushioned surface.
Two versions of the lesson plans help students build background and develop questions they can explore regarding the impact forces and how they can be ameliorated. Both includes strategies to support students in their own quest for answers and strategies for a more focused approach that helps all students participate in hands-on inquiry.
SOTSO: The Impact of Jenny Simpson models how students might investigate factors involved in impact forces.
SOTSO: The Impact of Jenny Simpson An Engineering Perspective models how students might apply what they learn in the video or other sources about force and impact to designing objects that reduce the effects.
You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans: