Teachers Parents Students

Going for the Gold: The Science of Winter Sports

| 1 Comment



Skeleton photo; Wikipedia public domain


The 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver February 12-28. With a list of sporting events that includes Alpine Skiing, Bobsleigh, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard, and Speed Skating, you know the snow and ice will be flying as athletes dazzle audiences and challenge the laws of physics with various rotations, jumps, loops, spins, twists, and turns.

Even from the couch, I can't pinpoint a perfect triple lutz a crisp Alley Oop or a flawless Backside 720. And the thought of hurtling down the Whistler track at speeds nearing 135 km/m on my stomach (skeleton) or on my back (luge) or hunkered down in a bobsleigh makes my head spin. This doesn't mean, of course, that I can't marvel at successfully landed moves and groan with the rest of the viewing audience when something goes wrong.

I'll be watching. And in between events, I'll be thinking a bit about sports science, about balance and dizziness and equilibrium, about speed and wind and friction, and about the many ways in which differences in equipment can be a determining factor.

A Balancing Act

While success in many winter sports boils down to gathering and maintaining and not disrupting accumulated "speed," many of these sports also require a good grip on balance. Torquing too far one way or another can send even the most seasoned athlete tumbling. For a look at what's going on, check out these Science Buddies science project ideas:


A Wheel in Motion...

Dive a bit deeper into issues that effect speed and accuracy in these project ideas:

On and Off the Ice

The following abbreviated project ideas offer concepts related to winter sports that can be expanded and crafted to create a unique and individual science fair project or study. As the Olympic games get underway, spending time as a class or group talking about the kinds of questions raised in these project ideas encourages creative and scientific collaborative thinking and problem-solving.


For other sports-related project ideas, visit our Sports Science section.

1 Comment

i love this project it is soooooooo cool

Science Buddies Science Activities

Science Buddies Summer Science Roundup


thumbnail
City parklets provide interesting challenges for engineers, designers, and planners. With software from Autodesk and a fun Digital STEAM Workshop challenge, students can design their own parklets and see what is involved in reimagining a few parking spots as a social space.

thumbnail
As the number of medications continues to rise, pharmacists play an increasingly powerful role in helping ensure patient wellbeing, safety, and quality of life. Beyond an apple a day, feeling better may require advice from a pharmacist!

thumbnail
Visual illusions and other optical puzzles are fun for families to share and explore. With hands-on science projects and activities, students can create and test their own visual illusions--including a cool infinity mirror!

thumbnail
School and family science weekly spotlight: the science of marinades

thumbnail
A fun SimCity science project from Science Buddies helps turn in-game city planning into a science experiment, one students can also use to enter the annual Future City competition.

thumbnail
What do gears and tires have to do with who wins a race—or how long it takes to ride to the corner store? Find out with hands-on sports science projects that help tie science to the sports kids love to do and watch.



Your Science!
What will you explore for your science project this year? What is your favorite classroom science activity? Email us a short (one to three sentences) summary of your science project or teaching tip. You might end up featured in an upcoming Science Buddies newsletter!



You may print and distribute up to 200 copies of this document annually, at no charge, for personal and classroom educational use. When printing this document, you may NOT modify it in any way. For any other use, please contact Science Buddies.