From physics to statistics, science plays a big role in soccer. As the World Cup unfolds this summer, watch the games, cheer on your favorite teams, and see science in action!
Sports fans all over the world are gearing up for FIFA World Cup soccer, which begins on June 13 in Brazil. Over the course of a month, soccer devotees will celebrate victories and groan over defeats as teams from 32 nations play 64 matches in 12 different stadiums, culminating in the final game on July 13.
To make it into that final match, elite soccer players will leave everything on the field, giving their fans the chance to see awesome punts, exciting goals, and split-second reaction times. How can these players score from impossible angles? How do goalies block shots? Practice makes perfect, but scientific principles have something to do with it, too.
The following Science Buddies Project Ideas help students uncover and explore the science in soccer:
- The Science of Spin: How Does Spin Affect the Trajectory of a Kicked Soccer Ball?: To "Bend It Like Beckham," you need to put the right amount of spin on the ball. Experiment with kicking different points of the ball to see how the flight path changes.
- Under Pressure: Bouncing Ball Dynamics: What would soccer be without a bouncy ball? Does it matter how much the ball is inflated? In this quick and easy experiment, investigate the concept of air pressure.
- How Far Can You Throw (or Kick) a Ball?: Grab some friends, head out to a field, and have fun going for the longest punt! Explore how the trajectory of the ball affects the distance that the ball travels.
- Think Fast!: Lightning-fast reaction times are a must for top goalies. Try this project and discover how fast your reflexes are!
- Geometry of Goal-Scoring: Ready to score one for the team? Test your accuracy when kicking from different angles to the goal, and then use your math and graphing skills to explain your success rate.
Science and Sports Go Hand-in-Hand
Sports science makes it easy to bring up scientific concepts in everyday life. Whether they are throwing, running, swimming, or kicking, asking the right questions can help kids see that science that isn't just for classrooms. Visit the Science Buddies Sports Science topic area to find more winning ideas!