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Find Your Center: Using Engineering and Biomechanics to Investigate Center of Mass (P12 Resource Exchange)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Curriculum and Resource Exchange

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Amy Trauth University of Delaware Orcid 16x16

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Amy Trauth-Nare, Ph.D., is the Associate Director of Science Education at the University of Delaware's Professional Development Center for Educators. In her role, Amy works collaboratively with K-12 science and engineering teachers to develop and implement standards-based curricula and assessments. She also provides mentoring and coaching and co-teaching support to K-12 teachers across the entire trajectory of the profession. Her research focuses on teacher education, classroom assessment, and P-16 environmental and engineering education.

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Jenni Buckley University of Delaware

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Dr. Buckley is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor’s of Engineering (2001) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware, and her MS (2004) and PhD (2006) in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked on computational and experimental methods in spinal biomechanics. Since 2006, her research efforts have focused on the development and mechanical evaluation of medical and rehabilitation devices, particularly orthopaedic, neurosurgical, and pediatric devices. She teaches courses in design, biomechanics, and mechanics at University of Delaware and is heavily involved in K12 engineering education efforts at the local, state, and national levels.

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Through this resource, we describe how to teach center of mass principles to high school (grades 9-12) students in the context of athletic performance. Our goal is to provide relevant lessons on biomechanics, a sub field of mechanics in engineering and physics that deal with forces and motion related to the human body. Biomechanics represents a unique learning opportunity to teach core mechanics concepts through the lens of anatomy and medicine, which is more relatable to students than classic examples from automotive and aerospace engineering. In this resource, we include a 5E lesson plan for engaging high school students in core ideas, crosscutting concepts and science and engineering practices related to force and motion in the Next Generation Science Standards. Students apply three methods for estimating center of mass and apply their understanding of center of mass to make recommendations to a diver for safe diving distances. We will share teacher lesson plans for all three lesson plus extension activities, associated student handouts, and assessments for evaluating student understanding.

Trauth, A., & Buckley, J. (2016, June), Find Your Center: Using Engineering and Biomechanics to Investigate Center of Mass (P12 Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26899

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