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Jaw-dropping cycle stunts transform school science lesson

7 May 2015

Scotland’s stunt cycle display team The Clan gave second year school pupils from Arbroath Academy a treat for their scientific senses today (Thursday 7 May) as they performed huge jumps, flips and crazy tricks in their jaw-dropping, gravity-defying Big Air Show.

The event marked the end of a project run by the Dundee Academy of Sport, which used the science behind Scotland’s cycling success to bring new meaning to biology, chemistry, physics and maths for those taking part in the school’s science masterclass programme.

With heart rate monitoring, bikes mounted on Turbo Trainers, an outdoor obstacle course and thrilling video clips from Chris Hoy’s legendary races, the lessons were fully interactive and filled to the brim with energy and excitement.

Using the design of the bike helmets and skin suits worn by track cyclists for example, the team were able to demonstrate the laws of physics and the means by which aerodynamics is put into play so that elite cyclists can complete their races in as fast a time as possible.

Sports drinks and calorie consumption meanwhile were used to bring chemistry and biology to life, with pupils learning about the essential nutrients required to fuel the body and get the athletes round the track in record time.

The project was intended to open the pupils’ eyes to the many and varied career opportunities that science can lead to within the world of sport and to encourage the pupils to continue studying one or more science subjects when they make their choices for their National 4s, 5s and Highers.

The 12-week programme was delivered three times to three different groups of pupils throughout the course of this academic year.

All of the participants from each of the three groups were invited to today’s spectacular stunt display.

Ian Lowe – Project Manager at the Dundee Academy of Sport – explains:

“The Dundee Academy of Sport is all about raising people’s aspirations, and being involved in Arbroath Academy’s science masterclasses has been a great way for us to do just that.

“It’s all very well learning equations and how to do calculations while sitting at a desk, but if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing them for or how they can be used in real life, it can be hard to know why they’re important or for them to make any sense.

“Cycling is a fantastic way to bring the two together though, as there is so much science behind it and there are so many different elements to the sport - from the design of the equipment to what is happening inside the athletes’ bodies as they push themselves to the limit.

“Finding out that it is actually someone’s job to design the lightest, most aerodynamic bike possible for Team GB could – we believe – inspire someone right here in Arbroath to go on and work on a project doing exactly that one day.

“Equally, exploring how our muscles work and that keeping these in tip-top condition is what a sports physio is paid to do could inspire someone to one day get a job as the physio for the next Victoria Pendleton or Laura Trott.

“The possibilities are endless, and it is our job to let today’s school pupils know about them, to let them know that they have the ability to achieve such goals and to give them the skills and knowledge they require to be able to apply for these types of jobs and to fulfil their ambitions.”

Judith Clark – Project Assistant at the Dundee Academy of Sport – added:

“It’s been fantastic to see these pupils become more involved over the course of this project. Some of them weren’t keen at all to begin with, but by the end they were really engaged with the different aspects of science and cycling we were showing them.

“Although the aim of the project wasn’t to get them doing physical activity, that was an added bonus, and every time they got onto a bike – even if they were worried beforehand that it might mess up their hair and make them all sweaty – they just felt totally exhilarated and wanted to do it all over again, which was wonderful to see.

“If learning about nutrition has inspired one of them to go on and work as a sports nutritionist advising the next Mark Cavendish or Bradley Wiggins on how to get into peak racing condition, then I’d be delighted.

“There’s no reason why people in Arbroath shouldn’t have fantastic jobs like these and I hope this project has helped these pupils to realise that.”


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

The Dundee Academy of Sport was launched in January 2014, and is a partnership between Abertay University and Dundee & Angus College.

It has three main aims:

  • to engage young people in their wider education by bringing subjects like history and maths to life through sport - either through their participation in sport or their interest in it. The intention is to widen and increase school attainment levels.
  • to further develop the region’s workforce in the sport and leisure industry by working with local communities to offer training and development opportunities for sports teachers and professionals, as well as volunteers.
  • to be Scotland’s leading provider of sports education and research by providing seamless transition from school-leaver right up to PhD level.
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