Oscar Pistorius attracted our attention in both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. First, he fought long and hard to become the first amputee to run in Olympic events. Then, during competition in the Paralympics he expressed concerns that other Paralympic runners were using the same assistive technology as he does—“blades”—to a competitive advantage.
So… what are these blades? How are they used? Do they confer a competitive advantage? If so, how? Find out in this installment of the NBC Learn/NSF videos series Science of the Summer Olympics—The Strength and Flexibility of Oscar Pistorius. Use the NSTA-developed lessons to guide inquiry investigations through hands-on and Internet research.
We hope you try them out. If you do, please leave comments below each posting about how well the information worked in real-world classrooms. 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. Leave a comment, and we’ll get in touch with you with submission information.
–Judy Elgin Jensen
Image of Oscar Pistorius in 200-m Paralympics final courtesy of Karli Watson
“The Strength and Flexibility of Oscar Pistorius” features Oscar Pistorius, a Paralympics Gold Medalist, who qualified to sprint in the Summer 2012 Olympics. Various researchers, including biomechanical engineer Rory Cooper and physical therapist Justin Laferrier at the University of Pittsburgh, explain the physics involved in using prosthetics designed especially for sprinting, as well as the biomechanics involved to compensate for the loss of active body components. Also briefly discussed in this video is whether or not Oscar’s prosthetics give him a competitive advantage over other sprinters.
Two versions of the lesson plans help students build background and develop questions they can explore regarding how the body adapts to assistive technologies as well as the potential competitive advantage in using them. 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: The Strength and Flexibility of Oscar Pistorius models how students might investigate the impact of body motions on running speed.
SOTSO: The Strength and Flexibility of Oscar Pistorius, An Engineering Perspective models a research effort to find out what is known about a design solution.
You can use the following form to e-mail us edited versions of the lesson plans: