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ACT students attend National Biomechanics Day at UC

Danielle Meddemmen

17 May 2021: The University of Canberra’s Discipline of Sport and Exercise Science will host 50 of the region’s school students this week, celebrating National Biomechanics Day, a global initiative designed to celebrate and promote biomechanics as an emerging scientific field.

Students will visit the University on 17 and 18 May, where they will be introduced to the field of biomechanics and its diverse range of opportunities for study and work.

They will take part in a workshop exploring contact forces in the foot during landing, and how shoe design impacts those forces. Students will then be tasked with designing a prototype shoe to better tolerate forces of landing or better absorb forces of landing.

University of Canberra PhD student Jerushah Bull – who won a grant from the National Biomechanics Day Initiative to run the event – said the field was often overlooked as a line of study by students who were unaware of its existence.

“Biomechanics is so important because it shows us how our bodies move, and how we can create the most efficient movement possible as we grow and change,” she said.

“Many students are introduced to fundamental science subjects like biology and physics, but are unaware of the applications of this science in human movement – which is essentially what biomechanics is.

“This lack of exposure to biomechanics as a field impacts the number of students going on to study and work in the industry, and ultimately positively impact society through biomechanics.”

Ms Bull, who previously completed her undergraduate degree in engineering, is now undertaking her PhD research in biomechanics at the University, investigating the effect aging has on foot spring.

Students who attend the University’s National Biomechanics Day event will explore the specific contact forces in individual feet when exercising, and the implications of shoe design.

Assistant Professor in Sport and Exercise Science at the University, Dr Celeste Coltman, said it was important to promote the growing field to possible future biomechanists.

“We have a growing group of academic staff and research students working across varied fields of biomechanics here at UC to solve real world problems, so it’s important to promote the possible opportunities to students in the region,” she said.

“Particularly in biomechanics, there are key timepoints – especially for women – where they drop out of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

“One of those is in Years 11 and 12, when girls don’t take the STEM subjects required as prerequisites to prepare them for study in science at a university level, and we are looking to address that.”

The 50 students, from Calwell High School and Lake Ginninderra College, will attend the workshop in Building 12.