June 22, 2023

High school students get insight into future careers at Human Performance Lab open house

Potential future kinesiology students explore sport-science laboratory during interactive event
High school students learn about body motion capture
High school students learn about body motion capture during Human Performance Lab open house.. Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

High school students from around Calgary recently had the chance to explore one of North America’s premier sport-science laboratories as the Human Performance Lab (HPL) at the Faculty of Kinesiology hosted its first in-person open house in three years.

The interactive event introduced students to the wide array of groundbreaking research conducted at the HPL that is pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation with the potential to shape the future of the kinesiology field.

Featured research included exploring the impact of food in facilitating a healthy gut microbiome, robotic gait training to improve bone health in youth with cerebral palsy, among other topics. 

As students navigated through various exhibit stations, they had the opportunity to interact with enthusiastic graduate students and faculty members who eagerly shared their expertise.

“It’s nice to see fresh young people excited to do research and just listen to what’s going on on-campus, how we do research and what methods we’re using,” says graduate student Juliana Rancier, who demonstrated to the potential future kinesiology students how robotics can assess cognitive, sensory and motor control in the arm.

“It’s so cool to be able to share what you’re doing and your passion with the students — it’s been really enlightening.”

Hands-on demonstrations allowed students to experience the innovative technologies and methodologies used in the laboratory, fostering a deeper understanding of the practical applications of kinesiology.

The experiential nature of the open house had students wanting more. Common feedback from students is that they’d want to come back again to view more stations and learn about body mechanics in a fun way.

The teachers who brought their students were happy the experiential opportunity is once again available after the COVID-19-forced hiatus.

“Having my students be able to come here and experience that hands-on aspect has been really great because they’re able to actually see and make connections from our curriculum.”

Sarah Burrill, Sports Medicine 30 teacher at Notre Dame High School

HPL researchers enjoy hosting events such as the open house, “and we’ve missed it over the past several years,” says HPL manager Juliana Cyr, BA’07. “In high school, students often have limited knowledge of what’s possible when it comes to merging their interests with a future career. The HPL open house allows students to engage with world-renowned researchers and can open a new world of possibilities for them.

“[The] students bring excitement and curiosity into our space, reminding us why what we do is cool. It’s been both fun and rewarding sharing our experience with them.”

Students who attended said they were inspired by the passion they saw on display as they look at kinesiology as a potential career path.

“This is sort of like a trailer into what we could be doing in the future,” said Dhriti Thiru, a Grade 11 student from Edison School.

The Faculty of Kinesiology is the No. 1-ranked sport-science school in North America and No. 11 globally. As a direct result of the 1988 Winter Olympics, the Faculty of Kinesiology has been able to develop a world-class environment for research and learning, as well as build superb training facilities for coaches and athletes at the varsity, community and Olympic levels. Kinesiology students receive high-quality, relevant, experiential learning opportunities that inform their future careers and contribute to research and scholarship in the faculty and university. The faculty is also the home of the successful Dinos varsity teamsOlympic Oval, Active Living,  Outdoor Centre, and the Sport Medicine Centre.