Think of a way to launch the puck with a reproducible force, and examine the effect of launching the puck in different orientations on the distance it travels. For more information on the physics, see Haché, 2002.
You'll need: a puck, a hockey stick, a tape measure, at least one helper with a stopwatch and an empty rink. Have your friend start the watch just as you make contact with the puck, and stop it when the puck hits the boards. Measure the distance and divide by the time to get the speed of the puck. With two helpers and two stop watches, you can time the puck at center ice and at the far end. Are the speeds the same? How about if you don't follow through, but stop your stick as soon as it…
If you have an air hockey table, you know that the puck floats on a thin cushion of air when the table is turned on. With little friction, the puck can travel very fast. How much lift force is created by the air? Add small amounts of weight to the puck and see when it no longer floats to measure the lift force. How many air holes (on average) support the puck? How much force is generated by each air hole? Will a puck with a larger surface area, supported by more air holes (on average),…
Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate…
How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
This project can apply to soccer, hockey, baseball and many other sports. What is the effect of stopping the kick/shot/swing at the moment of impact vs. following through? Think of a way to measure the outcome in each case, and explain your results. (idea from Gardner, 2000, 83-85; for more information with regard to specific sports, see: Barr, 1990, 12-14; Gay, 2004, 142-144; Adair, 2002, 30.)
While watching an ice hockey game, have you ever wondered what differentiates a good player from a great player? For sure, the great player is athletically superior to the good player. But maybe it is a combination of athleticism and equipment. Maybe a great player knows which hockey stick is best for him or her. Hockey players can choose to play with hockey sticks with different flexibilities or "flex." In this science fair project, investigate how stick flex affects shot accuracy and speed.…
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Average (6-10 days)
Access to an empty ice rink and knowledge of how to play ice hockey.
Specialty items required. You need access to an empty ice rink, hockey equipment and safety gear, a sports radar gun appropriate for hockey, and two volunteers who also have equipment and safety gear.
For this project, you'll use a baseball as a pendulum weight, studying the motion of the ball with and without spin. Wrap a rubber band around the ball, and tie a string to the rubber band. Fasten the string so that the ball hangs down and can swing freely. Mark a regular grid on cardboard, and place it directly beneath the ball to measure the motion. You can also time the oscillations with a stopwatch. Lift the ball along one of the grid axes, and let it go. Observe the motion and record…
Research the famous collapse of the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge.
What lessons were learned about the potentially damaging effects of wind on bridges? What structures stabilize a bridge against wind forces? Build models and use a wind tunnel to test your hypothesis.
You can model this with an ice cube sliding down a plank: how high do you need to lift the end of the plank before the ice cube starts to slide? Try this with one side plain wood and the flip side waxed wood (use paraffin wax, candle wax or ski wax). Make sure both sides are equally smooth to start with. Do at least three trials. More advanced: using what you know about the forces acting on the ice cube, derive equations to calculate the coefficient of friction for each case. Variation:…
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