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Year 8 project: What is the science behind superhumans?

Tuesday 28 August 2018, by JMC

The learning targets were:
- I can describe the basic structure and function of the musculoskeletal system.
- I can explain how the musculoskeletal system works to generate force
- I can use different statistical measures to analyse and interpret data
- I can describe the principles of biomechanics
- I can describe how forces interact with objects

During the immersion, students completed a number of health and fitness tests such as the Illinois agility test and the multi-stage fitness test. Students collected their performance data which would be analysed later in the expedition. Students then took part in athletics events at the local athletics stadium where they took part in events they would later investigate. The immersion ended with students measuring out some of the mind blowing world records for events such as the long jump and high jump. This immersion left students pondering if these records were indeed set by superhumans and how they were achieved.

The expedition was split into two case studies; Funny bones and Use the Force. In case study one, Funny Bones, students examined the muscular system and the skeletal system and understood their structure and how they worked together to produce movement. This case study was supported by two X-Block sessions. In PE we looked at health and fitness and students took part in fitness training sessions which examined how the musculoskeletal system is used during training and how training can improve performance. In art X-Block, students did anatomical drawings of the skeleton and the muscular system which helped students to examine these closely and produce scientifically accurate sketches which they could then write about in their science journals.

The fieldwork students took part in also combined the use of experts. They visited the sports science department at a local university and were lucky enough to have a lecture from Dr Dunn, a PHD who worked in the field of motion capture and performance analysis of sporting technique. Dr Dunn explained his academic journey and the research he was conducting. He introduced students to the specialist video equipment and software that he had developed which was being use to track elite tennis players performance and technique. Students were then able to complete some fitness tests using the cycle ergometers in the physiology lab, and undertake our own performance analysis using state of the art motion capture equipment. This helped students in answering our guiding question, as they saw all of the science and research that goes into creating elite athletes; superhumans.

Final Product – Posters

Students final product work was based around the research and analysis of different athletic field events, with the aim of creating a coaching resource that coaches or beginner athletes could use to improve their performance. They picked field events such as the hammer or long jump and looked at the following aspects; the musculoskeletal system, the specific types of movement and the biomechanics of the technique, forces and key coaching points. Students collected this information and presented it as a learning poster for interested people to see.

The idea is to find space to exhibit the poster, such as at the local athletics club. This will form part of our students legacy as future users of the facility.