“Who has the clavicle?” “Who has the humerus?” “The place’s the scapula?”
“I realized a brand new bone. It’s known as the patella.”
These feedback drifted by way of the Henle Dance Studio on a current Thursday morning as 12 college students gathered round a skeleton mannequin to hone in on the particulars of the musculoskeletal system. Clutching their bone elements, they tried to precisely determine the place they belong on the physique.
The scholars are taking The Science of Human Motion course, which brings collectively Organic Sciences and Theater and Dance, two departments that don’t usually cross paths.
The course goals to present college students a method to critically and scientifically consider private motion patterns whereas additionally inspiring them to maneuver with a larger understanding of their our bodies.
“It’s an thrilling and enjoyable problem to attempt to talk the identical concepts concerning the human physique from two completely different educational beginning factors,” mentioned Scott Kirkton, affiliate professor of organic sciences, who’s co-teaching with Laurie Zabele Cawley, lecturer and assistant director of dance.
Earlier that morning, Cawley led the scholars by way of a sequence of stretching actions targeted on how the backbone strikes. Their blue resistance bands provided bodily suggestions and a burst of whirling shade within the light-filled, principally white area.
“In at the moment’s technology-driven world, it’s simple to maneuver by way of the day disconnected from our bodily physique,” mentioned Cawley. “By way of motion workout routines, college students combine class materials for an embodied expertise, pairing science and somatic work.”
The scholars within the course symbolize a variety of majors. By way of a mixture of lectures, labs and workshops, they’re studying on the intersection of biomechanics, train physiology and cognitive neuroscience. The Thursday morning class within the Henle Dance Pavilion is adopted by lab work later within the day within the Built-in Science and Engineering Middle.
“I recognize dance and needed to pair it with one thing that’s outdoors the norm for me,” mentioned Zoë Flessas-Finocche ’23, a sociology main from Watertown, Mass., who took the category to meet a science with lab requirement.
“I’m a bit of fearful of science. It may possibly typically be tough for me to understand, nevertheless it’s higher by way of this course, which is a vital bridge. We’re studying anatomy by way of our our bodies, doing workout routines that particularly goal the backbone and provides us a hyperawareness of it. Some elements of this class are outdoors our particular person consolation zones, however all of us have a shared endurance and comradery.”
Cawley first pitched the concept of an experiential GenEd class that might mix dance and science to the Organic Sciences Division in 2018, “hoping for a possibility to deal with completely different studying kinds and empower college students to embrace science and themselves.” The course’s inception was delayed by COVID-19 till now.
“It has been nice working with Scott and being a beneficiary of his years of expertise on this subject,” Cawley mentioned.
“Laurie has a powerful background in kinesiology and biomechanics, and it is a good marriage of the tutorial classroom and laboratory with useful motion based mostly on the efficiency of dance,” mentioned Kirkton.
An animal physiologist, Kirkton joined Union in 2006 and has taught courses in comparative anatomy, human physiology and train physiology, amongst others. His analysis investigates elementary questions on how modifications throughout an animal’s life historical past affect organic processes.
Cawley, who has been main dance college students by way of their paces at Union since 2010, has an intensive historical past in performing, choreographing and educating. Her fields of curiosity embody fashionable somatic research, an inquiry into the “lived physique” by way of sensory remark and exploration.
Along with bringing collectively the sciences and humanities, Kirkton mentioned the course introduces college students who are usually not within the STEM disciplines to classy instrumentation that may not work with in any other case.
“The lab actions aren’t ‘child bio,’” he mentioned. “They’re meant to show college students to approaches to studying that they won’t get to see in a typical Gen Ed course. Union has all of this superb gear. For example, now we have analysis grade information acquisition methods, drive plates and digital actuality software program that permits college students to visualise the bones, joints and muscle groups we speak about at school.”
Within the CRoCHET Lab (Collaborative Robotics and Laptop-Human Empirical Testing) within the Wold Constructing, he added, the category is utilizing an NSF-funded excessive pace 3D movement caption system to digitize and analyze the scholars’ motion sequences.
“We wish college students to be aware about their actions and the alternatives they make. The movement seize evaluation will assist them higher perceive these selections.” Kirkton mentioned. “This venture will culminate with college students submitting a abstract paper full with graphs of their analyzed actions. Then college students will current their findings to the category.”
Mary Melo ’22, a political science main with minors in dance and historical past, has loved the chance to pursue her love of dance in a brand new approach.
“I’ve gained a newfound understanding of dance and the methods by which to make use of my muscle groups correctly to stop damage and misuse,” Melo mentioned. “It’s additionally been enriching to have two professors from completely different fields of research. This provides college students the flexibility to be taught in several mediums utilizing each bodily utility and extra conventional lectures into the classroom.”
“Our aim is for college students to connect with their our bodies by way of science and embodied motion, enabling deeper connections they’ll use past the classroom,” Cawley mentioned. “In the end, we might love for them to be excited by science and their full potential as human movers.”