High School Explainers Do Research on Olympics

Our high school Explainers became citizen scientists this summer, helping Professor Jill McNitt-Gray of the University of Southern California with her biomechanics research.

This spring, we toured Professor McNitt-Gray’s lab and experimented with force plates in the floor (used to analyze an athlete’s force when jumping) and EMG machines that allowed the students to see the electrical signals from their muscles. 

Learning about force plates at the Galen Center

Professor McNitt-Gray was so impressed with our Explainers that she asked two of the girls, Mariana Ortega and Alice Gavarrete, to assist with her research on the U.S. gymnastics team’s performance at the summer Olympics. Professor McNitt-Gray’s research uses experimental and real-life data to help athletes modify their approach to attain peak performance.

“I was really excited to help Dr. McNitt-Gray this summer especially since it was my first time assisting a professor with a research. I’m really glad to have taken this opportunity that Dr. McNitt-Gray offered us.” said Alice.

While Professor McNitt-Gray was at the Olympics with the team, Alice and Mariana assisted by gathering observational research. The girls watched the gymnasts and coded their routines- noting data such as their landings, apparatus, gender, and moves.

“I learned a lot on biomechanics. This whole experience has definitely made me even more excited about engineering,” reflected Mariana.

Learn more about science and the Olympics.

1 reply
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