An Olympian Moment: NYT Features Locomotor Performance Lab and Weyand’s Work to Show Differences in Running Fast and Running Far

Three elite runners came to SMU’s Locomotor Performance Lab to show what differentiates running fast and running far for the New York Times. Dr. Peter Weyand, who directs the lab and research, informs what actually happens with the athletes as they hit the ground. The visually compelling piece can be seen here. 

The information enhances knowledge about how races –Olympian or otherwise–unfold.

 

The American Society of Biomechanics Honors Peter Weyand with Hay Award

Simmons Professor Peter Weyand will receive the Jim Hay Memorial Award for Research in Sports and Exercise from the American Society of Biomechanics during its annual conference in August. The award recognizes “originality, quality, and depth of biomechanics research that addresses fundamental research questions relevant to extraordinary demands imposed in sport and exercise.”

His scholarly work focuses on mechanics, metabolism, and performance at the whole-body level. His work is well-known to academics and professionals in various fields. Because of his expertise,  he has served as a lead investigator in several high-profile projects. These include “Michael Johnson, Wired Athlete,” “Physics of Basketball Flopping,” and the Olympic eligibility cases of amputee sprinters Oscar Pistorius and Blake Leeper considered by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

Weyand holds the Glenn Simmons Endowed Professorship of Applied Physiology and Biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness.

Big Drop in Math Scores Lead Walkington and Wilhelm to Call for New Ways of Teaching Math

Associate Professor Candace Walkington, Simmons School

Mathematics education professors Candace Walkington and Annie Wilhelm weigh in on the substantial drop in math STAAR scores during the pandemic. Both point out that the loss of math knowledge creates an opportunity to teach mathematics in new ways –and it has to be a systemic change.

Wilhelm tells The Dallas Morning News that prioritizing what students learn is key, explaining that educators should focus on the lessons that students must understand to be successful in their next grade level and future careers so they can “dig deep” rather than cover everything superficially.”

Walkington says that having students in virtual instruction makes it harder for teachers to engage with them.“That really points to a problem with mathematics instruction itself and the way we’re teaching it, not with the kids and not with the teachers.” Read more.

 

For a CBS11 broadcast story with Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, click here.

Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, Simmons School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCII Honors Alain Mota for Data-based Individualization Work in Project STAIR

Alain Mota, Research in Mathematics Education (RME), SMU Simmons

The National Center for Intensive Intervention (NCII) names Research in Mathematics Education’s Alain Mota this year’s Data-based Individualization Champion for his contributions to Project STAIR, a shared effort with the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Missouri, and SMU. The work supports algebra readiness in middle school for students with learning disabilities and is funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

Mota is the STEM development and implementation coordinator for RME. In his Project STAIR role, he has co-facilitated webinars, collected data, and coauthored reports and guides based on the “virtual year” of implementation. Researchers at the University of Missouri nominated him for the recognition.

He was honored recently during NCII’s ten-year anniversary celebration. Congratulations to him!

 

Upcoming West Dallas STEM School Uses Virtual Space to Break Ground

As classes in the Dallas Independent School District conclude June 18, a new school in West Dallas gets ready to start. The Pre-K to 8 STEM School breaks ground virtually to celebrate its opening in mid-August.

In this video, the convener is Principal Marion Jackson, who highlights what students and their families can expect. The first group of students to study at the school will be seventh and eighth-graders.

The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas ISD Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and the West Dallas community.

 

 

NSF-funded STEM Projects By Simmons Researchers Win Recognition in 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase

Several Simmons researchers and their co-investigators at other universities were recognized for their STEM projects by the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase, funded by National Science Foundation.

Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, Beth Adams, STEM evaluation researcher, Tiffini Pruitt Britton, math education researcher (co-principal investigators), and their team received a Presenter’s Choice award for their video, Supporting Equitable Participation and Access.   Led by Principal Investigator Jonee Wilson, assistant professor at North Carolina State, the video shows that aiming for equity involves identifying and outlining specific practices that support and empower students who have historically been underserved specifically in mathematics classrooms. This video also was noted for being one of the projects that registered the most discussion.

Associate Professor Candace Walker and her team received a Facilitators’ Choice award for their video, Stories of Algebra for the Workplace. The project examines how practitioners in STEM and STEM-related careers use algebra to do their jobs and then uses this information to build classroom activities for students enrolled in algebra courses.  The team includes Simmons Ph.D. students Brooke Istas, Jonathan Hunnuicut, and Min Wang, and fellow researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, Worcester Polytechnic University, and Texas A&M created

The 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM for All Video Showcase is an annual online event. Each year, it hosts between 100-200 three-minute video presentations from federally funded projects that aim to improve STEM (Science, Math, Engineering, and Mathematics) and computer science education. During the seven days of this online event, Principal Investigators, practitioners, administrators, researchers, policymakers, industry, and the public at large are encouraged to participate.

Bridging the COVID Learning Gaps: DMN Shows How Quick Testing Methods Used by Simmons Can Help

 

Kindergarten teacher Michelle Davis gives a fist bump to Angelique Luciano, 6, after administering a quick literacy diagnostic test to her at F.P. Caillet Elementary in Dallas on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. These bimonthly, quick diagnostic assessments give her the info she needs to plot out how to get her students on track amid the pandemic. (Lynda M. González/The Dallas Morning News)(Lynda M. González / Staff Photographer)

The Dallas Morning News gives a thorough look at how a teacher can administer quick literacy tests to assess how students are progressing, as they build up their knowledge after staying at home during the pandemic.

Featured is Kindergarten teacher Michelle Davis, who is getting a graduate degree in education from the Simmons School. One of her professors, Diane Gifford, Ph.D., explains why this approach is effective in getting students up to speed. For a full version of the story, read more.

Gándara Becomes a William T. Grant Scholar and Pursues Five-year Research on Free-college Programs

Denisa Gándara, assistant professor of higher education, is a faculty member in the Dept. of Education Policy and Leadership, Simmons School.

Assistant Profesor of Higher Education Denisa Gándara is one of  five early-career researchers selected by the William T. Grant Foundation to receive $350,000 “to execute rigorous five-year research plans that stretch their skills and knowledge into new disciplines, content areas, or methods.”

Gándara will examine how the administrative burdens of free-college programs, such as eligibility criteria and application processes, impact college enrollment and degree completion for racially or ethnically minoritized students. She aims to provide a more complete understanding of how administrative burdens affect students from different racial or ethnic groups, and, ultimately, to inform program design in ways that help reduce gaps in program take-up and degree attainment.

“By supporting their research agendas and professional development, the William T. Grant Scholars Program seeks to contribute to a bright new generation of scholars who will bring rigorous research to youth policies, programs, and practices in the U.S.,” said the Grant Foundation’s Senior Vice President Vivian Tseng.

New West Dallas PreK-8 STEM School To Open In August

West Dallas parents and students talk about how they envision the new STEM School.

DALLAS (SMU) May, 4, 2021 – In West Dallas a new Pre K-8 STEM school is set to open this August beginning with students in the 7th and 8th grades.  The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas Independent School District Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the West Dallas community.

“We strongly believe that all children should have equal access to opportunities and a pathway to great careers,” said Sean Suggs, director, Toyota USA Foundation and group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “Together with the community, we have worked on everything from building design, teacher development, curriculum and before and after school care.  This extends also to addressing broader community needs, including access to transportation.”

To support the school as it opens and its new Master Principal Marion Jackson, the Toyota USA Foundation approved an additional grant of $3 million to SMU, adding to the $2 million grant the foundation awarded in September 2018.  This is in addition to Toyota’s teacher and community grants, West Dallas scholarship and mentorship programs, and the recently launched transportation circulator in the area.

“We know that there many related issues – from access to healthy food to before and after school care – that all tie into academic success. This is something we need to collectively address, and we encourage additional partners to come alongside the effort,” added Suggs.

To further support the school, business leader Carter Creech, an SMU alumnus with a passion for education philanthropy, has pledged an additional $3.5 million, following his initial gift of $1.5 million to the project.  Creech’s contribution will go toward a new middle school career and college readiness pilot program at the school, as well as efforts to replicate the West Dallas STEM school.

“As we move from planning to implementation, we have deepened our commitment to the school, to the model, and to each other,” said Simmons School Dean Stephanie Knight. “SMU is grateful for this unique partnership, and thanks both the Toyota Foundation USA and Carter Creech for continued investment in our community’s children – the problem solvers of the future.”

The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston

The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston is a neighborhood school that will begin by serving the 7th and 8th grade.  PreK – 1st grade is scheduled to begin enrollment in 2023.

The school brings together four integral components to create an innovative PK – 8 school model:

  • A project-based, industry-informed STEM curriculum
  • Professional development for educators
  • “Wraparound” services delivered directly to the students by community nonprofit organizations to help with issues such as literacy, nutrition, transportation and after-school care
  • Evaluation and measurement to support a model of continuous improvement

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the students and community of West Dallas,” principal Jackson said. “This partnership has afforded us the space to realize what’s possible when we focus our collective efforts on changing how we meet the needs of our students and families. We are committed to equipping our students to succeed in an evolving global society.”

SMU’s Simmons School is providing faculty expertise to develop project-based learning, which means that students will learn by working in groups to solve open-ended problems using design, engineering, math, science and technology. The approach prepares students to take on new challenges as they occur – and to understand how to build new knowledge on existing concepts.  The Simmons School will provide professional development for teachers, and Simmons researchers will monitor and evaluate the program as it evolves, developing a model to create other STEM-focused schools.

Partnering with the West Dallas Community  

Since the onset, the West Dallas community has been engaged in the creation of the school, advising on everything from design to input on services offered at the school.

Parents, such as José Alas, who sits on the school’s advisory council, have been engaged from the beginning. “This school really will help bridge the gap in opportunities when it comes to education,” he says. “Every child has the potential to do great things if we can provide them what they need, and I think the school is going to do just that. We always juggle where to send our children and now we are going to have one of the best schools in our backyard.”

Organizations such as West Dallas One and the West Dallas Community Coalition also have been active in the partnership, participating in the school’s design teams and focus groups with residents. Additionally, six long-established West Dallas nonprofit groups have been working on plans to expand their services within the school to help students and their families gain quick access to resources they need.

For more information, please visit https://www.dallasisd.org/westdallasstem

Peter Weyand’s Testing of Paralympic Sprinter Blake Leeper on His Use of Long Running Blades Forms Basis of World Athletics’ Ruling

DALLAS (SMU) – A World Athletics panel ruling that Paralympic sprinter Blake Leeper cannot compete using unnaturally long, blade-like prostheses at the Tokyo Olympics was based on research led by renowned SMU human speed expert Peter Weyand.

The governing body for track and field athletes said Monday that Leeper’s disproportionately long prostheses, would give him an “overall competitive advantage”. The ruling follows testing by Weyand and University of Montana professor Matt Bundle on Leeper and his running specific prostheses (RSPs) at SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory.

Weyand is Glenn Simmons Professor of Applied Physiology and professor of biomechanics in the Department of Applied Physiology & Wellness in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education & Human Development. He also runs the SMU Locomotor laboratory and has done extensive analysis of many professional sprinters, including Usain Bolt and Oscar Pistorius. Bundle is the director of University of Montana’s Biomechanics Lab.

In their report to the panel, Weyand and Bundle provided a detailed explanation of why, all other things being equal, increased leg length causes increased running speed. Previous Weyand studies have shown there is a close correlation between an athlete’s leg length and ground contact length, such as the distance that a runner’s body travels while their foot is in contact with the ground.

“If the height of Mr. Leeper’s RSPs was reduced by 15 centimeters to his natural anatomical leg length so that Mr. Leeper ran at his Maximum Allowable Standing Height (MASH), then his top speed would be likely to reduce from 11.4 m/s to 9.8 m/s, and his overall 400m time would be likely to increase by approximately eight seconds,” Weyand and Bundle wrote.

Leeper, who was born without legs below his knees, won two Paralympic medals at London 2012 and had appealed with World Athletics to be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Tests done at Southern Methodist University in February and March determined that Leeper’s standing height was measured at 184 centimeters with a leg length of 104 centimeters.

Under the panel’s Maximum Allowable Standing Height (MASH) rule, the 31-year-old American double amputee is not permitted to run at a height greater than 174.4 centimeters.

“The decision means Mr Leeper cannot compete wearing these new RSPs at World Athletics’ major international events… or the Olympic Games,” World Athletics said in a statement on Monday.