Oak Park and River Forest High School physics teacher Aaron Podolner has teamed up with phys. ed. teacher Jim Nudera to use digital video technology to improve fitness routines and athletic movements.
Nudera is also OPRF's head football coach.
Educators hope to videotape movements to be analyzed by the physics students. You might have seen this technology on TV, where athletes are transformed into stick figures, their joints made into points.
"As you get further into sports, it's gets more scientific," Podolner said.
He was one of 100 educators who won a $2,000 grant from the ING Unsung Heroes awards program for the pilot program. That makes him eligible for one of three top awards of $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000.
"An unsung hero is defined as someone who strives to make a difference in the
lives of others; however, their work often goes unnoticed," an ING press release reads.
The irony, in Podolner's case, is that he's hardly gone unnoticed in his four years of teaching.
Last fall he took a sabbatical as part of winning the Golden Apple Award, and studied digital video at Northwestern University.
The award money will be used to purchase new video equipment, Podolner said. A larger award would mean better equipment, which would be nice because he plans to post the footage and findings online and share them with other schools.
Physics students study mechanics in the fall, and he hopes to get a few joint sessions with PE classes in this year to begin building the video library. The project will continue in later fall semesters.
Students are expected to find links between better form and athletic success.