STEMfit…now in Qld!

kids-jumping.jpgCongratulations to Keane, Charlie and Sharon from Queensland on winning a sensational community grant ( we can’t say who yet). We are so excited to see STEMfit rolling out to Queensland schools in the Brisbane Metro and Fraser Coast,  through Queensland University of Technology, Oodgeroo Indigenous unit together with partner institutions Griffith University and University of the Sunshine Coast.

We are looking forward to seeing Keane, Charlie and Sharon in action through our virtual STEMfit VR program and the playing fields of local schools.

STEMfit: A deep dive with Dr. Charlie

We know STEMfit as having a good time in the playground and then analysing our data in the classroom. But there is another, deeper layer and that is the physiology of our body and its contribution to helping us run faster and jump higher. Learning about the bodies biology helps has design better training programmes, eat better and the understand the importance of rest.

So strap in and take a deep dive with Dr. Charlie, as we sneak into some of her actual lectures to the medical doctors of tomorrow.

Introducing Dr. Charlie  and the lungs…..





Back in 2015 a seed for an idea was planted.

Today, Jim Lee was invited to Yasmin Osborne’s admission as a lawyer into the Northern Territory Supreme Court. This is the culmination of many years study commencing with Exercise and Sport Science, followed by an Honours degree, after which came the law degree. With all of them, Yasmin was always dedicated and successful with her studies. Little did Yasmin or Jim know that her Honours studies would result in a steadily growing entity known as STEMfit….

Jim With Yasmin after her admission to the NT Supreme Court. Photo courtesy of Yasmin Osbourne ©

In 2015, Yasmin (pictured) had decided to undertake an Honours research year looking at physical literacy, the use of technology, and functional capacity in children in a Darwin School and also in a very remote school – Kalkaringi. It was very hard work for Yasmin – she had to put up with Jim’s incessant raving about the Richmond Football Club and along with other stories in the 7.5 hour (each way) road trip to Kalkaringi. Apart from that torture, interesting discussions were had between them and STEMfit team member, Jeff Parker, who was the school principal there at the time. It was from these chats that over the next year or two that the idea of using movement data from the school kids could be used in STEM classes. From these little things* the evolution has continued. 

*This has a relationship to Paul Kelly’s song of the same name. For those interested in cryptic messages, can you work it out?

CDU media release for STEMfit

STEMfit engages NT kids in learning

3 March 2020

Jim Lee
Dr Jim Lee has been investigating the potential of STEMfit technology in the classroom.

Charles Darwin University Lecturer in Exercise and Sport Science, Dr Jim Lee has been researching the use of wearable technologies in STEM education, using students’ own performance data to engage them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics classes.

Together with Jeff Parker and Associate Professor Danny James, Dr Lee has delivered the final report to the Northern Territory Department of Education Innovation Fund for School Improvement. The report demonstrates the potential of STEMfit technology in classrooms.    

STEMfit is a wearable device used to capture performance data. Successfully used by elite athletes, the challenge was to translate the technology from elite athletes to school kids. Dr Lee trialled the technology at four schools – Clyde Fenton Primary School and Timber Creek, Bulla Camp and Amanbidji schools.

“We wanted to include rural and remote schools who often get left out, to give something back,” he said.

“We wanted to engage kids in a positive learning experience, doing something they are good at and can be proud of.”

The aim of the STEMfit is to deliver to schools a program that teachers could plug in and run without any need for additional software or training.

Students performed a series of actions (running, walking and jumping) and used their own data to calculate various maths problems.

“We showed them their running speed compared with school children in Japan and their average speed was faster,” Dr Lee said.

“They quickly engaged with the subject because they could relate to it.”

Interestingly, primary school students understood concepts such as acceleration and gravity much more readily than adults, he said.

“Students who had never picked up a ruler before were suddenly thinking and reasoning their way through complex maths problems,” Dr Lee said.

“With STEMfit they could see the data on screen as they jumped and understand the science based on evidence, not theory.”

According to Dr Lee, the Government has identified a lack of STEM activities in Australia, particularly for Indigenous girls. The next stage of the project will be to involve teachers in the development of the STEMfit curriculum.

“We are tapping into something students care about, in this case sport, to give them a greater understanding in subjects where they typically disengage.”

Link to the article in the CDU website

Football: A STEM job for the future

STEMfit partner Dr Wheeler is no stranger to sport, on any given weekend you’ll find him out there playing community rugby (well until his young family came along anyway). But what does his day job as a rugby player look like?….well you guessed it, its playing rugby too! (kinda).

17/06/06 bw156994i Rugby union, Stingrays v’s University at Quad Park: Keane Wheeler wins a lineout. Photo: Brett Wortman

So what kind of benefits do sports science bring to playing sport? So in rugby you want to get the ball up the other end of the field without getting tackled. The best players don’t just get past a tackle, they avoid them entirely. Keane’s work helped identify this using video cameras (today we are using our sensors though). This is the job of science and STEM tools, to help our coaches understand through evidence why certain actions are beneficial. So our movements can not only teach us STEM stuff, STEM can teach us all about how to be a better rugby player!!!

For more info take a quick peak into one of his papers and have a look.
Modification of Agility Running Technique in Reaction to a Defender in Rugby Union

(See his other work here)

Changes to running technique occur when required to make a decision.
Fast agility performers use different stepping strategies in reactive conditions.
Decision-making must be incorporated in agility training programs.


STEMfit, from the biochemistry lab

img_1431While STEMfit was founded on measuring how your body moves, STEMfit partner Dr. Charlie introduced us to how a better understanding of how our bodies create and store energy are now also a big part of STEMfit. Dr Charlie teaches premed medical students all about metabolism, how we create energy in our body, how we use it can help us understand how to eat right, why we run out of energy when playing sport and how to train better. What to eat before your big day and the truth about soft drinks and diet drinks are so much more understandable The mysteries of the infamous Krebs cycle, anaerobic and aerobic exercise and why we fell sore the day after a big training session all make so much sense. Thanks Dr. Charlie

All about Gravity

Gravity, about as interesting as it might get in the school yard is hearing about the proverbial apple falling on Newtons head, or if your lucky dropping some marbles of of D block…

One of the great things about inertial sensors is that they measure gravity. Gravity being 1g (0.98m/s/s for the technical), and is one of those few constants in life (along with death and taxes I suppose). This makes it a really neat component present in any signal you measure on an inertial sensor, be it your mobile phone, watch, or one of our STEMfit wearables.

Knowing there is a constant gravity signal in your wearable turns out to be really useful for example in sports like swimming, where the roll of your body, which is in time with strokes, makes a handy stroke counter. You can also measure the changes in body orientation during skydiving tricks (if you like jumping out of planes).

One area where it is particularly fascinating is where a sensor is freefalling in the air, in such a case the gravity component disappears from the signal (ask your students why? if you need to fill in 15mins of a lesson). So now that you have a measure of when an object is in free fall you can measure how long it is in free-fall. From there and thanks to the great works of Mr Newtons laws of motion you can calculate vertical height! Including everything from standing vertical jumps, BMX jumps and even a snowboarders height in a half pipe. Now that makes for a really interesting physics lesson!

Here are some of our papers if you want to know more

Wearable Sensors in sport: A practical guide

Performance assessment innovations for elite snowboarding

An integrated swimming monitoring system for the biomechanical analysis of swimming strokes

Inertial monitoring of style and accuracy at 10,000 feet

STEMfit in the pool

small.1110 SWIM RESEARCH-MM438537-044206.jpgWay back in the dark ages of the early 2000’s the STEMfit team were working with Australia’s elite athletes to develop a swimming technology to help improve performance. One of the secrets of performance enhancement is that first you have to be able to measure the performance. A stopwatch and lap times is a great start, but in today’s world if you want to finish on the podium you need a bit more than that. It turns out that using wearables like we use in STEMfit can do a whole lot of measuring. STEMfit co-founder, Jim, has used wearables to measure stroke rates, stroke times, body roll angle, and even how long it takes to do a turn at the end of a lap. So why is lap turn so important? , it turns (sorry ’bout the pun)  out it takes up to 0.5 seconds…and thats often the difference between finishing on the podium or finishing last! FWIW, swimming turns can take up to 30% of a whole swim’s time – how? Well, that is a story for another time….

Here is some more reading from on of Jim’s publications
Inertial sensor, 3D and 2D assessment of stroke phases in freestyle swimming

(See more here)