The Science of Sports

Integrating examples from the wide, wide, world of sports into physics or chemistry lessons will really spark students’ interest. These resources take an in-depth look at how chemistry and technology have had a huge impact on all kinds of sports – from golf to paintball and in addition, follow the theme of the annual National Chemistry Week, celebrated in October. Chemistry: Making It Real
The resources selected for this publication from the NSDL Middle School Portal will help your students understand chemistry at work, using examples that will spark their interest. A basic understanding of chemistry concepts and terminology will prepare them for more abstract studies in chemistry in their high school years and beyond.

Sport Science
The Exploratorium explains the science behind cycling, skateboarding, surfing, hockey, and baseball. Articles, interviews, interactive simulations, video clips, and activities for students provide an in-depth look at all these sports.

Golf Balls
Since the late 1800s, chemists have been called on to find ways to produce lighter, faster, and durable golf balls. This site traces the chemistry that has transformed the ball and promises to create a ball that will “soar like a cruise missile, hit the ground at a very shallow angle, and roll for up to 40 yards on hard ground.”

Artificial Snow
Towns that depend on skiing for their income watch the skies for signs of snow. If it doesn’t come in sufficient amounts, they can call on companies that make snow. Sometimes snow is needed on movie sets or other indoor sites. Various methods of making snow for different purposes are described here.

Paintball: Chemistry Hits Its Mark
The first paintballs were fired by foresters and ranchers to mark trees and cattle. In the 1980s, someone got the idea that it would be more fun to fire paintballs at people than at trees and cows. Thus the sport of paintball was born. In this article from ChemMatters, learn how the one billion paintballs manufactured each year are a product of chemistry and engineering.

We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/09/2012.

Waves

The National Science Education Standards (NSES) tell us that students in grades 5-8 should “begin to see the connections among . . . [energy forms] and to become familiar with the idea that energy is an important property of substances and that most change involves energy transfer.” Yet there is no explicit direction to introduce students to waves in the context of energy. But what better way to help students connect the mechanical energy of visible ocean waves to the “work” they can do in moving objects all the while transferring energy from kinetic to potential and back? Resources provided here will help you help your students begin to conceptualize waves and their relationship to energy.

Waves and Wave Motion: Describing Waves
This module introduces the history of wave theories, basic descriptions of waves and wave motion, and the concepts of wave speed and frequency.

Seismic Waves
How can P and S waves predict the inner structure of the Earth? Students activate four seismographs that send out P and S waves and watch as the waves are reflected and refracted while moving through the Earth and are asked a series of questions about the waves and interior of the Earth. From the results and provided information, students see how the movement of P and S waves predicts structure within the Earth.

Sound
This site, created by and for 5th grade science students and educators, explores, illustrates, and explains the science of sound and music, including compression waves.

Waves, Sound and Light
These online applets or “gizmos” cover prisms, refraction, and ray tracings with lenses and mirrors. Each gizmo allows users to manipulate variables such as wave length or angle of reflection and each is accompanied by an illustrated, printable guide. The Explore Learning site requires a subscription but does offer a 30-day free trial and five minutes of free access each month for each of the applets.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 10/16/2011.

Distance-Rate-Time

Measurement is one of the core NCTM Principals and Standards for School Mathematics content standards, and rate is central to its practical application. While most middle school students know the distance-rate-time formula, they may still benefit from a closer study of the relationship.

Understanding Distance, Speed, and Time Relationships
Students see two runners move along a track. As they change the speeds and starting points of the runners, they watch the race but also examine a graph of the time-versus-distance relationship. Excellent questions guide the class as they investigate the scenario from several angles.

The Stowaway Adventure: Adventures on the High Seas
In this multidisciplinary Internet-based project, students use real-time data collected online to track a real ship at sea, determine its destination, and predict when it will arrive. An important question in this engaging math adventure is: If my ship has moved from this location to that in 6 hours, how fast is it traveling? Complete lesson plans are included, as well as detailed directions for teachers on how to access maritime data online. The data can be gathered ahead of time if no computer is available to the class.

Tern Turn: Are We There Yet?
This activity challenges students to calculate, given the rate and hours per day in flight, how many days an arctic tern would require to fly the 9,000-mile round trip from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica. Related questions ask students to calculate rates and distances for additional animal migrations. Answers to all questions and additional resource suggestions are provided.

Finding Our Top Speed
In this lesson, students use a real-world, hands-on activity to develop their understanding of time and distance. Students use a stopwatch to measure how far each of them can walk in 8 seconds. They also measure the time it takes each of them to walk various distances. After collecting the data, they create a human graph, bar graphs, and line graphs of distance versus time. An insightful visual of the relationship between distance, rate, and time!


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 10/13/2011.