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Virtual Outreach Videos

Welcome students, K-12 educators, and those excited to learn more about biomechanics to our virtual outreach page! In line with Vanderbilt guidelines, our lab will unfortunately not be able to host in person visitors for tours and outreach events during the 2020-2021 academic year. However, we are excited to virtually engage with K-12 students and share our passion for biomechanics and engineering! We have two suggested experiences:

  1. Have your students watch 1 (or multiple) of our 5 minute biomechanics videos below (or available on our YouTube channel). Then, use our suggested discussion questions to have your students reflect on these videos through writing or discussion!
  2. Have your students watch 1 (or multiple) of our 5 minute biomechanics videos below (or available on our YouTube channel). Then, schedule a time with Katherine Rodzak ( to have a 30 minute Zoom hang out with engineering students in our lab. During this hangout 2-4 engineering students from our lab will sign on, and can lead a discussion on the suggested questions, or share with you their experience as engineers.

Thank you for your interest in learning more about biomechanics and engineering. If you have any feedback, or have suggestions on biomechanics / engineering topics you would like to see covered in the future, please fill out this survey.

Preventing Injuries

Topics: sports biomechanics, wearables, machine learning, motion capture, forces, electromyography

Suggested age group: Elementary, middle, and high school students

Discussion questions:

  1. Can you think of any other sports technologies that were informed by science and biomechanics? How do these technologies help the athlete?
  2. If you could create a wearable device that monitored a metric related to your health, wellness, performance, or productivity, what type of wearable would you create?
  3. Can you think of any advantages or disadvantages of using wearable devices and machine learning to monitor our movement all day, every day?


 Assistive Technology: Restoring Mobility & Independence

Topics: exoskeleton, prosthesis, powered, passive, safety, mobility, design, rehabilitation

Suggested age group: Elementary, middle, and high school students

Discussion questions:

  1. Assistive technology is any device that helps an individual with disabilities perform daily tasks. In this video we discuss exoskeletons and prostheses. What is an example of assistive technology that was not mentioned in this video?
  2. Compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of an unpowered assistive device versus a powered assistive device.
  3. You have designed a hand exoskeleton that helps an individual grasp objects. How would you design an experiment to test it? What variables would you control, and what variables would you change? What would you measure?


Marvelous Muscles and How We Move Our Bodies

Topics: muscles, human movement, muscle measurement devices, reflexes

Suggested age group: Elementary, middle, and high school students

Discussion questions:

  1. Based on your new knowledge about muscles, why do you think it may be more challenging to design a hand prosthesis than some leg prostheses?
  2. Besides electromyography (devices that measure electrical activity in muscles) can you think of any other ways we study the signals in our body?
  3. Think about the muscles in your thigh. Can you identify which muscles help flex (bend) your knee and which ones help extend (straighten) your knee? As you walk, when might each of these sets of muscles be receiving electrical signals?
  4. What kind of devices can you think about that would help someone recover from an injury where they over-used their muscles and need help moving their body?


Robots part 1: What are Robots?

Topics: robotics, controls, mechanical design, electronics, programming

Suggested age group: Elementary, middle, and high school students

Discussion questions:

  1. Can you think of any other robots that are in your home or school? What are the mechanical, electrical, and computer software components?
  2. What are some tasks you’d like to have a robot to help you complete? How would you design this robot?
  3. Think about the heating and cooling (air conditioning) in your home. Do you think that is an open loop or a closed loop system? What are other examples of open loop and closed loop systems?
  4. Can you think of any tasks that humans are better at than robots? What gives humans the advantage?


Robots part 2: Wearable Robotic Devices

Topics: robotics, mechanical design, electronics, prosthetics, exoskeletons, assistive technology

Suggested age group: Middle and high school students

Discussion questions:

  1. Wearable robots can also be used to help healthy individuals perform beyond human capabilities. Can you think of an activity where you would want enhanced abilities? What part of the body would the robot assist for you to accomplish this?
  2. Think about designing a wearable robot to help someone move their shoulders and lift heavy things. What would you need to know about how the shoulder moves and the task before you design the device?
  3. If you were going to design a wearable robot to help someone walk up and down stairs, what do you think the hardest part would be? How could the robot know when you are going UP vs. DOWN stairs?
  4. What are some safety considerations engineers must keep in mind when designing a prosthetic device or exoskeleton for a human to wear?


Biomechanics: When Sports Meets Science

Topics: sports, physics, motion capture, high jump

Suggested age group: Elementary, middle, and high school students

Discussion questions: coming soon!


National Biomechanics Day

National Biomechanics Day (NBD) is an international event that seeks to increase awareness of biomechanics (the study of motion and force as applied to biological systems), particularly among high school students, teachers and the general public. The hope is to help incorporate biomechanics into high school curricula as a way to excite and enhance the learning of students in the areas of math, biology and physics. More generally, NBD is a scientific celebration of all things biomechanics including educational institutions, scientific societies, athletic entities seeking to improve performance and reduce injury, biomechanics, instrument manufacturers, and any commercial entities that use biomechanics to create or enhance their products or personnel.

NBD is organized by the American Society of Biomechanics and Vanderbilt University is excited to participate by hosting a day of science, technology, fun, curiosity and discovery. We look forward to hosting high school students/classes for this event, which will include interactive lab tours and hands-on demonstrations related to biomechanics, prosthetics and exoskeletons.

Since its inception nearly 30,000 high school students around THE WORLD have participated in National Biomechanics day, in locations ranging from the US, to Australia, to Brazil, to New Zealand!  Laboratories throughout the country provided hands-on, interactive demonstrations by faculty and college students that produced tremendous excitement about biomechanics among the visitors, as documented by the photographs on: Instagram & Twitter.  We hold a local NBD event at Vanderbilt University each year in our Biomechanics & Assistive Technology Lab, which is located in the newly constructed Engineering & Science Building.

Potential Schedule for Future NBD Event
9am-3pm: Early session is for students, teachers and counselors from local middle and high schools
3pm-5pm: Late session is a Lab Open House (open to all members of the Vanderbilt University community, and members of the surrounding Nashville community; all ages, children and adults, welcome!!!)

Engineering and Science Building (ESB)
Room 331/335/339
1212 25th Ave S
Nashville TN, 37212

Limited metered parking is located on streets around ESB, or ample paid visitor parking is available in the 25th Ave. Garage, which is located directly across the street from ESB.

If you are a local high school teacher, group organizer or administrator, and would like to inquire about bringing a group/class of students to the Early session, then please email the Point(s) of Contact below.

If you are an individual high school student, or parent to a high schooler, or small group of parents/students that are interested in attending, then we would encourage you to come visit during the Late session (Open House). Or email the Point(s) of Contact below to inquire about availability to attend the Early session.

If you are a company or organization interested in contributing to NBD either financially or in some other way (e.g., donation of biomechanics-related videos about your products or processes, listing our NBD event on your website, or any other in-kind or material donation) then please email the Point(s) of Contact info below. Thanks!

Points of Contact
Katherine Rodzak (
Rachel Teater (

Thanks for reading, and for your interest! You can be sure that NBD will be an exciting and influential event that brings together biomechanical science, technology and sports to inspire high school students across the country.