Joshua Sohn was a 8th grader at Jeffrey Trail Middle School and received 5th place in the Applied Mechanics and Structure Junior Division of the 64th annual California State Science and Engineering Fair. His project was titled The Effect of Fencing on the Knee. The project investigated the effect lunging in the sport of fencing has on the knee and ways to minimize knee injuries.
Joshua himself is a part of a fencing club. He enjoys fencing and various other sports. In his free time, he fools around with his friends or relaxes with music or Netflix.
Inspiration for his project came from his fencing club. Joshua states, “Many of my fellow fencers at my club always wore a knee brace or KT tape – kinesiology tape designed for muscle pain relief and support.” Seeing these fencers dealing with knee issues led him to do some research about fencing knee injuries which suggested an enormous association. Armed with his observations and research, Joshua set out to design an experiment to test the true effect fencing lunges have on the knee.
This project endeavor was not without obstacles however. Since his project involved force applied on the knee, Joshua needed a model of the knee that could withstand applied force for the purpose of measurement. Unfortunately, no suitable knee models were available for consumer purchase. As a result of this setback, Joshua needed to build his own knee model. He proceeded by purchasing wood and building a simplified knee structure capable of simulating the fencing lunge. From this experience, he learned that sometimes fitting models do not exist on the market and self-designed equipment is often the most reliable.
Joshua is sure the process and results of his project can be further expanded. He believes there is much room to expand his project to sports other than fencing. Furthermore, a knee brace could be developed to measure force on the knee real-time while an athlete moves around, assisting in more applicable measurements. Generalizing to the entire category of injury-prone sports could benefit athletes everywhere.
For students looking to proceed with a science fair project, Joshua encourages them to stay interested. He believes “the most important part of science research is pursuing what you are truly interested in. Other projects may sound more advanced than yours, but you’ll do the best when you stick to what you are most passionate about.”