Bringing life to STEM through biomechanics

12 Apr 2019

students watching biomechanics demonstrationTo celebrate National Biomechanics Day at The University of Queensland the next generation of scientists were given a glimpse into the world of biomechanics and how it impacts everyday life.

More than 150 high school students participated in practical workshops ranging from performing jumps onto force measuring plates to learning how the brain can control muscle contraction.

Dr Jeroen Aeles from UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences said National Biomechanics Day provides an opportunity for universities to help students to learn what biomechanics is all about.

“Many people are unaware of what biomechanics is although it is all around us in everyday life,” Dr Aeles said.

“The aim is to inform and inspire students about the broad range of areas you can study and have a career in, such as working with elite athletes to improve techniques to developing training protocols for children with neurological diseases.

“By bringing students into the labs we can show them the cutting edge technology we use to better understand human movement and how research is applied to produce solutions and products to help humans move more safely and effectively.”

Biomechanics combines the field of engineering mechanics with the fields of biology and physiology and it applies mechanical principles to the human body in order to understand how and why it moves in the way it does.

National Biomechanics Day started in the United States in 2016 and is now organised in 16 countries worldwide annually.

This year UQ led the collaborative effort in Australia that involved six other universities hosting events at eight different locations throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

“Together with my colleague Dr Ben Hoffman we provided a network through which we offered support and guidance to Australian universities and institutes that wanted to organise their first National Biomechanics Day event,” Dr Aeles said.

“This year it was exciting see a significant increase in universities, students and teachers who participated in National Biomechanics Day.

“We hope we can increase this number each year so we can reach more high schools and spread the word about biomechanics even further.

“Eventually the aim is to have biomechanics taught in all high schools as a separate subject as it is such an important area in STEM.”

The Gap State High School Acting Head of Health and Physical Education Bart Flanagan said the experience enhanced the students’ understanding and application of biomechanics.

“The students participated in physical testing using world class technology which leads perfectly into their biomechanics studies later in the year,” Mr Flanagan said.

“What really opened the students’ eyes was the precision and detail of both the testing protocols and measuring apparatus/technologies that we just don’t have access to at schools.

“For many students it was their first experience being at a university, so it was great for them to explore the UQ campus and give them an understanding of future career and tertiary study options.”

Media: UQ Communications, Kirsten O’Leary,