Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Playing with science (and math) - The Olympics

I’ve just found out that the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is promoting a series of short National Science Foundation videos that feature the science behind the sports of the Olympics.

What a find!  Out of the 16 short videos (all available online) the 5 I watched all had something of interest.  I learned in the Science of Snowboarding that young athletes use the properties of motion, balance and G-forces to allow them the speed and height to perform tricks in the half pipe.  In Olympic Motion and Slapshot Physics I learned about different properties of physics both inside and outside of an athlete’s body. Competition Suits makes some great connections between chemistry and physics, explaining the importance of aerodynamics for many Olympians.  And in Mathletes the importance of math is shown in so many aspects of the Olympic Games, from calculating speeds in many sports and angles in shooting hockey goals, to working out scores in events such as skating.

In addition, lesson plans (from Lessonopoly) have been developed based on each video’s focus. These are appropriate for grades 6 to 10.  The lesson plans look like a good place to start exploring, although some lessons look stronger than others; some are more inquiry-based while others seem to have demonstrations done for students rather than allowing students to explore for themselves.  The ones I looked at all included cross-curricular opportunities.

Great opportunities for engaging students with current events and tying math and science into everyday life.  And maybe it makes for a good excuse to watch hockey or snowboarding during school hours!


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