URI Kinesiology Department to host high school students for ‘hands-on’ Biomechanics Day April 6

The event to promote biomechanics, other STEM fields, gives students the chance to experience College of Health Sciences’ state-of-the-art labs

KINGSTON, R. I. — March 30, 2022 — The University of Rhode Island Department of Kinesiology will welcome high school students from throughout the state to its labs in Independence Square to learn about biomechanics and other STEM fields during the annual International Biomechanics Day April 6, 9 a.m. to noon.

Students will experience the advanced Biomechanics Lab, Body Composition Lab, Fitness Lab and Motion Capture Lab, where professors and grad students from kinesiology, physical therapy, communicative disorders and engineering will educate the students on biomechanics systems. Students will be able to put on motion capture sensors to see how their bodies move. They’ll measure their brain waves using EEG (electroencephalography) sensors; examine their body composition; measure the force they put on their feet while walking, and much more.

“We’re trying to make everything as hands-on as possible,” said kinesiology Professor Susan D’Andrea, who is organizing the URI event. “We’re going to do augmented reality and virtual reality; we’ll be doing some EEG brain wave measurements; we can look at their heel bone with an ultrasound device. It will be stuff they can physically engage in.”

The event is part of National Biomechanics Day, a worldwide celebration of biomechanics in its many forms for high school students and teachers. Biomechanics investigates “the broad expanse of biology in the physical world,” according to the Biomechanics Initiative, which organizes the international event. The discipline makes substantial contributions to basic biology and physics, medicine and health, human and animal movement and performance, biomedical engineering, prosthetics and human-machine interactions, among many other endeavors.

“The big overall goal is to educate high school students about biomechanics, what we can do, and how we can use our science skills to help people with disabilities or problems,” said D’Andrea, noting she expects around 100 students from high schools around the state to attend. “It’s really cool because biomechanics is really hands-on; you can see it. It’s all to bring the high school kids in and show them the opportunities this field presents.”

Another primary goal of Biomechanics Day is to specifically promote women in biomechanics and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines. D’Andrea has reached out specifically to the all-girls schools in Rhode Island, and URI kinesiology alumna Maria Urso, who works on regulatory issues in medical devices, will present a virtual discussion on the varied opportunities in biomechanics.

“We wanted to have a very strong, successful woman in the health care field who has a connection to URI to address the students,” D’Andrea said. “Our goal is focused around trying to engage and empower girls and women in science. I’m an engineer, and I lived in a world where I was usually the only woman at the table, so that’s why I’m really passionate about empowering women in science.”

Independence Square is located at 25 West Independence Way, Kingston, RI.