BUTCHER, M.T.*; BERTRAM, J.E.A.; Florida State University; Florida State University: Newton’s Laws of Motion and jumping performance: A lab exercise investigating jump distance increases due to added hand-held weight.
Learning is facilitated by both engaging students in the learning process and providing them with direct experience of the phenomena of interest. This biomechanics laboratory is designed to provide an understanding of Newton’s ‘Laws of Motion’, as they apply to limbed movement and performance. In this exercise students use themselves as models, providing a unique perspective on the factors that govern the system. Students compare maximum distance for simple standing broad jumps performed with and without hand-held weights. Contrary to their initial expectation, students find that jump distance is increased with moderate additional weights. This fact was realized by ancient Greeks where hand-held weights, or ‘halteres’, were a part of the original Olympic jumping sports. Understanding why this occurs requires an understanding of the Laws of Motion and their application to jumping and the interaction of the neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems. In addition, performance comparisons are facilitated by appropriate normalization of data and students are introduced to these concepts. The effectiveness of this laboratory was assessed by administering a pre-lab questionnaire evaluating understanding of the Laws of Motion as they apply to jumping mechanics and a post-lab questionnaire assessing understanding of the same principles, but in the context of an analogous circumstance that students were not directly exposed to in the lab, the mechanics of throwing. Results indicate that understanding of Newton’s Laws of Motion improved significantly as a result of participation in the lab exercise.