Laurent Couëtil trains runners that not even Olympic sprinting champion Usain Bolt could beat.
In his training room, Couëtil can push his athletes to speeds almost 10 mph faster than those at which the Jamaican world-record holder has been clocked. Of course, Couëtil's trainees enjoy a two-legged advantage over Bolt.
Using horse Whitey as an example, Purdue's Laurent Couëtil demonstrates the similarities between humans and animals to Indiana sixth-graders.
Couëtil, a professor of large animal medicine in the School of Veterinary Medicine and director of Purdue University's Equine Sports Medicine Center, evaluates horses suffering from poor performance. One day last September, Couëtil was putting Whitey, a retired standardbred racehorse, through his paces on the center's 12-foot-long treadmill.
STEM Takes Center Stage
As Whitey clip-clopped faster and faster, more than 9,000 sixth-grade students from more than 140 schools across Indiana and as far away as Indonesia watched with keen interest. The students watching Whitey with such rapt attention were on a unique field trip—a field trip that required no buses, no sack lunches and no parental permission slips.
Through the magic of technology—and without leaving their classrooms—the students were transported inside Couëtil's training facility, where they engaged in a live interactive lesson on the similarities between horse and human anatomy. A short time later, they made a virtual visit to the lab of anatomy specialist Lisa Hilliard, where they learned about bones. The 45-minute field trip, "We're All Animals," ended with students solving a mystery about a limping dog in a takeoff of "CSI" TV shows.
The engaging program was courtesy of Purdue zipTrips™, electronic field trips exposing middle school students to a variety of scientists. The program is a partnership among Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue Agriculture and the Discovery Learning Research Center. The electronic field trips are more than just entertainment and a break from normal classroom routine. And zipTrips is one way that Purdue is responding to statewide initiatives to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in K-12.
Indiana is implementing stronger standards for science and math to ensure that students graduate from high school with the competencies to succeed in the 21st century workplace and to increase the number of students who enter STEM professions.