National Biomechanics Day
Our lab participates yearly in National Biomechanics Day, a world-wide celebration of biomechanics in its many forms for high school students and teachers. For this event, the University of Delaware hosts ~170 students from five different high schools in the area. Students are given tours of each of the biomechanics labs to learn more about the world class research being conducted here at STAR campus.
For this event, our lab demos a visuomotor adaptation task that students can play using a joystick at the computer that simulates the work we do studying force-field adaptation using the MR-SoftWrist in the MRI. We also have an interactive demo with our lower-extremity exoskeleton (ALEX) that we use for gait training, in which students can watch the exoskeleton move through exemplary gait cycles, as well as push and pull on the exoskeleton when it is in a transparent control mode and an unpowered mode so that they can feel how the apparent inertia of the exoskeleton changes.
We also support the Perry Initiative, a non-profit organization head-quartered at the University of Delaware, that is committed to inspiring young women to be leaders in the fields of Orthopaedic Surgery and Engineering. Our graduate student, Andria Farrens is a Perry Initiative program specialist, who travels around the country running hands-on outreach programs for young women in high school, college, and medical school.
This year, for the first time, our lab participated in BRAIN Day, a day-long event to expose the field of human movement to elementary students, coordinated by Dr. Joshua Cashaback and Seth Sullivan at the Biomedical Engineering Department at the University of Delaware. The goal of BRAIN day to was to teach local 5th grade students about the mechanisms of human movement and how we can use science and technology to help those living with neuromotor disorders. Our graduate students led multiple groups of 7-10 students through various activities and demonstrations on the mechanics of walking and discussed how we can use exoskeletons and robotics to train individuals to walk better. Students learned how gait exoskeletons work and saw the exoskeleton in action on the treadmill. Our graduate students have a passion for promoting STEM-related careers to the next generation and increasing the accessibility of scientific research to middle and high-schoolers through hands-on activities.