May 16, 2024

Hundreds of high school students take over the Human Performance Lab for a day

High school teacher comes full circle from studying kinesiology to touring with his students
A young girl walks on a treadmill while others watch

High school students attending the Human Performance Lab open house learn how forces are applied to muscles in a walking environment.

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

The Human Performance Lab (HPL) at UCalgary opened its doors to more than 450 high school students from across Calgary on May 7, hoping to inspire a few future kinesiologists, and spark some interest in the breadth of sport science. 

Shane Sokolan, a teacher from Western Canada High School has been to HPL open houses many times, and he has witnessed his students’ interest in Kinesiology after attending an open house.  

“My students are taking a class in biomechanics and they are doing research in human movement - this gives them an experience that is beyond the classroom and books. It’s good exposure for them. It’s not just about first aid and CPR and taping – it’s so much more than that,” says Sokolan who teaches classes in sport medicine. 

He also wants his students to be exposed to a variety of career options.

“If they want to get into healthcare, they learn there is more than being a nurse and a doctor. Hopefully they will see something that sparks a passion for them, and they can consider something that is kinesiology-based. Maybe become a master’s student, or go into research,” says Sokolan.

Kinesiology is close to his heart. He was studying Kinesiology at the University of Calgary when it transitioned from the Department of Physical Education to the Faculty of Kinesiology in 1995.

The open house experience has come full circle for Sokolan. He saw former students demonstrating research at one the 28 stations that were set up in the HPL.

A group of young girls sitting on the floor watching something off camera

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

“Three students that toured the HPL with me about 10 years are now working with SHRED concussions. This event works,” says Sokolan. 

One of Sokolan’s current students, Carla Wong, attended the open house. When asked what she thought of the research stations, she said: “I thought they were interesting. It was insightful because it’s similar to what I want to go into.”

Wong plans to go into Kinesiology or physiotherapy, or something in the realm of sports medicine. She has applied to the University of Calgary’s Kinesiology program as well as the program at Mount Royal University.

When asked if she had a favourite station in the HPL, she did.

“I was interested in the study of bone density for osteoporosis and menopause. I thought that was pretty cool,” says Wong. 

Dr. Michael Baggaley, who is a postdoc scholar studying how muscles function, was at one of the stations demonstrating how forces are applied to muscles through the environment. 

“I think when students can see the application in their life it pulls them in and that is when they really seem to enjoy themselves, and they see possibilities,” says Baggaley.

The Human Performance Lab is part of the Faculty of Kinesiology, one of the top sport science schools in the world.

The new Taylor Family Kinesiology Building will be coming to campus. This will expand the space for research and learning in human performance, movement and sport science.