How to Make GeekKids Watch Sports

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Sports are less of a drag when they're tied in with physics. "The Science of the Olympic Winter Games" is produced by NBC and the National Science Foundation.Sports are less of a drag when they're tied in with physics. "The Science of the Olympic Winter Games" is produced by NBC and the National Science Foundation.

Sports are less of a drag when they're tied in with physics. "The Science of the Olympic Winter Games" is produced by NBC and the National Science Foundation.

How do free-style skiers manage to twist their bodies while flying through the air? What’s it feel like going into a curve inside a speeding bobsled? If the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat isn’t enough to convince your progeny to join you on the couch for the Olympic Game telecast this winter, you might want to try enticing them with some extreme sports science.

In preparation for the 2010 Olympic Games from Vancouver, Canada, NBC and the National Science Foundation have teamed up to produce “The Science of the Olympic Winter Games“, a series of 16 short (4-minute) videos on the physics behind a hockey player’s slapshot and a figure skater’s spin. Using a Phantom Cam high-speed camera to capture images at rates of up to 1,500 frames per second, the series turns usually fast-paced sports coverage into a Matrix-like freeze-frame sequence.

To help explain what’s happening in these amazing shots of top athletes and state-of-the-art sports equipment caught in mid-flight, the series includes commentary from experts like Ithaca College exercise and sports science professor Deborah King and Melissa Hines, director of the Cornell University Center for Materials Research. Kids (and adults) without much science background will find that Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum and other scientific concepts are much easier to understand when they’re illustrated with real-life footage.

And who knows? “Olympic Science” might even get some sports fans interested in physics!

For more kid-friendly physics resources, check out Kathy Ceceri’s new Home Physics blog.

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