A record 4200+ Paralympians will compete in 20 sports at the London 2012 Games that begin August 29. Of the 20 sports included, 17 are Paralympic versions of sports played in the Olympic Games. Wheelchair rugby is one of the unique ones. Find out how science knowledge and engineering design contribute to the success of the players in this installment of the NBC Learn/NSF videos series Science of the Summer Olympics—Engineering for Mobility. Then have a crashingly good time watching wheelchair rugby players on TV!
While your class rosters are still in flux and books have yet to be distributed, use one (or more!) of these videos to engage students in back-to-school critical and creative thinking. A group of engineers we spoke to while developing the lessons noted that “creative” is usually not an adjective associated with engineers. Yet, engineering design processes often begin with creative thought and approximations.
The series is available cost-free on www.NBCLearn.com and www.NSF.gov. Use the link below to download the lesson plans in a format you can edit to customize for your situation. And if you had to make significant changes to a lesson, we’d love to see what you did differently, as well as why you made the changes.
Use these NSTA-developed lessons to encourage creativity in your students. Then be sure to let us know how they worked for you. Your comments help us be creative, too!
–Judy Elgin Jensen
Image of wheelchair rugby team in action courtesy of Jonas Merian.
In “Engineering for Mobility,” Rory Cooper, a biomechanical engineer at the University of Pittsburgh and Summer Paralympics participant in the 1998 games in Seoul, is featured. In his Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Cooper and his graduate students are doing research on how wheelchairs are designed and built depending on the sport played, and sometimes, on the position played by the athlete. The video also discusses the concept of the center of gravity of various types of wheelchair designs.
Two versions of the lesson plans help students build background and develop questions they can explore regarding center of gravity and wheelchair design. Both include 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: Engineering for Mobility models how students might investigate the relationship of the distribution of mass and center of gravity in a system.
SOTSO: Engineering for Mobility, An Engineering Perspective models how students might design a wheelchair for use in tennis or another sport.
You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans: