Friday, December 5, 2008

  • 'Lab days' introduce kinesiology
  • Into the cardboard heart of Ontario
  • Promoting Lego as route to robotics
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[Students with bike and computer]
'Lab days' introduce kinesiology

from the UW media relations office

High school students from across Ontario will learn about health and human movement at UW's Kinesiology Lab Days taking place this week and next.

The annual event, hosted by UW's kinesiology department, also serves as an educational resource to hundreds of teachers of biology and exercise science across the province.

Some 1,000 Grade 11 and 12 students from 45 schools, including 11 local high schools, will learn about a wide range of human health and movement-related topics in mini-laboratory sessions.

The event was launched in 1973 to introduce the then relatively new field of kinesiology — the science of human movement. More than three decades later, UW has established itself as an international leader in kinesiology and hopes to encourage teens interested in health sciences to join the field.

"UW's department of kinesiology celebrates its 41st year as not only the first kinesiology department in the world, but as an international leader in the science of human movement," says Stuart McGill, the department’s chair. "Kinesiology Lab Days is an effective way to introduce a new generation of kinesiologists into this exciting profession and show them how they can use their interest in science to really make a difference in people's lives."

In July 2007, the Ontario government passed Bill 171, a landmark decision that officially made kinesiology a regulated health profession in this province.

The student visits begin each day with an introductory presentation by Amanda Cocksedge, recruitment co-ordinator for the faculty of applied health sciences, which includes the kin department. Her presentation on human movement takes place in the Clarica Auditorium in the Lyle S. Hallman Institute for Health Promotion.

Afterwards, students participate in lab experiences at the institute and neighbouring Matthews Hall. This year's lab topics include “Ergonomically Designed” (the science of fitting the task to the person); “Put Your Best Foot Forward” (neurological pathways and biomechanical principles involved in walking, running and jumping); “Pedal Power” (the workings of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, in photo at top); “Psyched-Up” (how psychological variables affect performance); and “Work Those Muscles” (how muscle forces are generated and quantified).

Students will learn about equipment and techniques used in many of the kinesiology department's research and teaching labs. Lab experiences range from learning to use electromyography to measuring breath-by-breath oxygen uptake. Participants can apply their new-found knowledge in creative applications that include propelling an electric car around the corridors using only electrical signals from their muscles.

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Into the cardboard heart of Ontario

I wandered over to East Campus Hall on Wednesday afternoon, just about in time to see the current exhibition at “Render”. The world of art now greatly resembles the world of music, in which single words or short phrases can just as easily be the name of the album, the song or the performer. In this case Render is the UW art gallery, “Dominion” or “Dominion City” is the show (and the city it’s about), and “Seth” is the artist.

The motto of Dominion is “Omnis temporalis”, and it's so true: the show, which has been in place since late September, will be closing Saturday, so getting there on Wednesday wasn't any too soon. I was glad to have a last-minute chance to admire Dominion and its “sister city”, Beaver.

[Cardboard three-storey building]The main part of the show consists of a number of exquisite cardboard models of buildings (left), the sort of thing you’d see in the older districts of an Ontario city, as well as some artifacts — ledgers, an old flag, a row of beat-up library books — representing traces of the community that the artist is supposedly documenting.

Mounted on one wall of the gallery are several large cartoons by Seth, the creator, who is after all primarily a cartoonist. They show off, or mock, the proud civic life of Dominion, which is presented as an Ontario community of the 1950s or thereabouts. “As with all of Seth’s works,” a news release from the gallery explained when the show opened, “Dominion City is infused with melancholy and an air of ambiguous nostalgia tinged with a healthy dose of cynical humour.” Yeah; what he said.

And then there’s Beaver, which is an even larger collection of cardboard buildings, much more crudely put together, though also with many touches of humour (I particularly liked the Perforated Plastic Grapefruit Company). I wondered whether this part of the exhibit represented Seth being cute, but Render curator Andrew Hunter assured me that no, Beaver really was the creation of a group of adolescent cousins a generation ago, preserved in somebody’s attic almost by accident.

In the course of the stroll over to ECH and back to the office, I passed two of UW’s major construction sites. East of the tracks, there’s Engineering V, which is starting to look like a real, multi-storey building, with not one but two cranes revolving elegantly far overhead. Back on the central campus, I paused to stare into the huge excavation that will some day become the Quantum-Nano Centre. Looks like something you’d see in a big city, I reflected.

I also had occasion to stop off briefly at the human resources department, which has just moved back to the General Services Complex after renovation of its office space there. For years HR has been housed in two separate areas, one to the left of the main entrance and one to the right. Now, for the first time, offices are assigned so that staff relations, recruitment and similar activities are in one contiguous area, while pensions, benefits and payroll are on the other side. Staff told me it’s working out really well.

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Promoting Lego as route to robotics

When the First Lego League Ontario holds its championship event tomorrow at St. Mildred's-Lightbourn School in Oakville, a UW faculty member and a student will be there supporting a team from an inner-city Kitchener school.

“Maud Gorbet, a Waterloo systems design professor, became involved in the competition this past September,” says Carol Truemner, communications officer for the engineering faculty. “A student, Brad Morris, was hired to help her out on his co-op term this fall.

“Maud Gorbet and her husband Rob, also a Waterloo professor, are heavily involved in the First Robotics League, and Maud's goal is to increase the number of high schools entering the First Robotics competition held at UW each year by whetting interest in students in younger grades through the First Lego League.

[Kid, T-shirt, Lego]“She approached area schools and managed to find three that were interested in having teams of students compete in area competitions.” (Right: a youngster getting inspired by Lego during one of UW’s Engineering Science Quest camps three years ago.)

The team, made up of grade 6 students taught by Krista Weltz-Gordon at Suddaby Public School, won the area competition and will compete in the provincials tomorrow under their chosen name: the Noodle Heads. (The other two teams from Waterloo Region didn’t make the finals.)

Truemner adds that “although Maud doesn't know all the details of the school's project, it does include something related to water wells (the team was advised by the Region of Waterloo) and has a robot perform certain missions.”

The local entries in the Lego competition attracted some support this year from Research In Motion, a major local high-tech company. “Maud's goal,” says Truemner, “is to double the number of local teams that compete in the league next year and to secure UW funding — this year the funding for the co-op student's role came from leftover First Robotics funds.”


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Link of the day

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

When and where

Philosophy colloquium: Shannon Dea, UW, “Synechism and Intersexuality,” 3:30 p.m., Humanities room 334.

Comic City Film Series linked to “Dominion City” exhibition in Render (UW art gallery): “The Rocketeer” (1991) with introductory comments by Peter Trinh, 6:00, East Campus Hall gallery.

Handel’s ‘Messiah’ by Grand Philharmonic Choir, Chamber Singers, Nota Bene Period Orchestra and soloists, 7:30 p.m., First United Church, Waterloo, tickets $20 (students $10), order online; also Saturday 3 p.m., St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cambridge.

Arts Lecture Hall electrical power shutoff Sunday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Winterfest, staff association family skating party Sunday 1:00 to 3:00, Columbia Icefield, registration closed.

Blood donor clinic December 8 and 9 (10:00 to 4:00), Student Life Centre, book appointments at turnkey desk or call 1-888-236-6283.

Social Innovation and Community Change one-day event with displays and panel discussions, co-sponsored by UW Social Innovation Generation, Monday 9:00 to 4:30, Centre for International Governance Innovation, 57 Erb Street West. Details.

Outers Club presents Tavi Murray, Swansea University, Wales, speaking on living and working in the Antarctic, Monday 6:00, Math and Computer room 2065.

Soft water will be shut off Tuesday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in all main campus buildings inside the ring road, as well as Village I. Water supply continues but will not be softened.

Live & Learn library lecture: Bruce Muirhead, history, “The Jewel in the crown: The International Development Research Centre and Canadian Development Assistance”, Tuesday 7:00 p.m., Waterloo Public Library main branch.

Senate finance committee Wednesday 4 p.m., Needles Hall room 3004, agenda online.

Accelerator Centre “graduation” for Miovision Technologies, Thursday 9:30 a.m., 295 Hagey Boulevard, information info@

Graduate Student Association semi-formal Saturday, December 13, 6 p.m., South Campus Hall, Festival Room. Details.

Social work program application deadline for 2009 is December 15, 2008.

UW Senate Monday, December 15, cancelled.

Ontario Ballet Theatre presents “The Nutcracker”, Monday, December 15, 7:00 p.m., and school performances Tuesday, 10:00 and 12:30, Humanities Theatre.

Fee payment deadline for the winter term: December 17 (cheque, money order or fee arrangements), December 30 (bank transfer).

Christmas and New Year’s holidays: Tuesday, December 23, last working day at UW for 2008. First working day of 2009 is Monday, January 5. Winter term classes begin Monday, January 5.

‘Language as a Complex Dynamic System’ event at Renison University College, Thursday, January 8; guest speaker Diane Larsen-Freeman, University of Michigan; details e-mail jpwillia@

Social Innovation Generation project presents “Studio Earth”, with remarks by environmentalist Severn Suzuki, sessions on social finance, social technology, political advocacy, Sunday, January 11, 12:30 to 5:00, Kitchener City Hall, registration $10, call ext. 38680.

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