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Campus Alert

Erin Heflin

Can Skydiving Be Therapeutic?

Submitted to Dr. Sithy Maharoof for Fundamentals of Physics (PHYS-101)

Summary:

My project explores the possible therapeutic nature of free fall from skydiving in two experimental studies completed by scientists measuring testosterone levels, cortisol levels and brain activity. The different forces, such as gravitational force and drag force, are also explored and how and when skydivers achieve free fall.

General Education Connections

  • Communicate ideas in written, oral and other modes as appropriate to a situation and audience
  • Employ various thinking strategies to develop well-reasoned judgments
  • Evaluate sources of information for accuracy, relevance and reliability
  • Use technology tools to manage, integrate and evaluate digital information
  • Explore issues through creative, interdisciplinary and innovative approaches
  • Cultivate intellectual and ethical practices that promote the wellness of self, community and environment 

TI was able to develop communication skills in a written mode by completing multiple assignments, including calculating a skydiver’s terminal velocity and drag force. We were given the skydiving writing assignment where we chose our own topics involving skydiving. We used two equations to quantitatively understand the physics behind skydiving: the equation for drag force and the formula for terminal velocity. I was able to employ various thinking strategies while selecting my topic. I am going into the medical field and I wanted to explore how skydiving might help the medical field. I then was able to complete research and evaluate my sources, using the library’s online databases to find many useful articles and case studies. Our professor let us take off with the project and I was able to explore how skydiving might be a creative way to be a therapeutic tool. I was able to cultivate intellectual and ethical practices while writing my signature assignment and made sure I relayed the information without plagiarism.

Challenges

The main challenge I had was completing the assignment within the length requirements. I had many case studies, experiments and other information I wanted to include in the paper, but I was limited to five pages. I had to therefore limit the case studies and experiments and, rather than go into the studies in-depth, I had to prioritize the most important information I wanted to convey.

Application

The topic of my signature assignment, while not in my direct field of study (Diagnostic Medical Sonography), does involve the medical field. It could benefit my personal life because I have always wanted to try skydiving and, from the experiments I explored, it seems like it could be a great activity to do that could help with stress and depression that I have felt in the past and possibly will experience again.