Matthew Flinders Materials Technology 014

Science of Surfing

The humble wetsuit, it protects us as winter starts to set in and the water temperature drops but have you ever considered the research, technology, science and engineering skills required to design the wetsuits that are keeping us warm?

As part of Education Week celebrations Year 10 students from Matthew Flinders Secondary College were taken on a journey through the process of designing a wetsuit – from concept to consumer.

This opportunity was provided by BioLAB: The Victorian BioScience Education Centre in conjunction with industry partners and world leaders in wetsuit design and development Ripcurl.

Students began the day with a tour through Ripcurl’s headquarters in Torquay with Peter Cole, Global Research and Development Manager in the wetsuit division.  Peter and his team were able to highlight the amazing development and testing process that goes into developing Ripcurl’s line of revolutionary wetsuits.

Students then spent the afternoon at BioLAB headquarters in Belmont applying their knowledge and testing their science, technology, engineering and maths skills by designing their own wetsuit with resident Education Officer and Materials Technologist Dr Anthony Ellis.

Dr Ellis said this year’s Education Week theme was scientists do amazing things and today’s experience certainly emphasised that point.  This was a great opportunity for the girls to gain an insight

into the cutting edge of sport science and materials technology. We were very excited to work with Ripcurl and allow students to gain access to the inner sanctum of surfing product development. It also offered students the opportunity to learn about careers and the necessary skills required to work in the science and surfing industry.

Experiences included testing flexibility, warmth, and water resistance properties of Ripcurl’s wetsuit fabrics in ice bath conditions, using thermal technology to determine a material’s insulating effects on the human body. This program was based on research conducted by Dr Paul Collins at Deakin University.

BioLAB is a science and mathematics specialist centre located in Belmont and was set up by the State Government to inspire and engage students with hands on education programs. BioLAB’s programs aim to showcase the wonders of science and mathematics using the theme of human performance and sport. This allows students to learn more about themselves as well as experiencing the myriad of fantastic career opportunities and research that occurs in this region.

BioLAB are proudly supported by Lead Partners Deakin University.