Written by: on July 26, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

science of olympics

Tomorrow the quest for Olympic Gold begins as the best athletes in the world gather in London to battle it out for their chance of athletic glory. If all goes well, the organization and technology that runs the event will be seamlessly invisible, allowing fans both at the event and at home to follow every step, every run and every jump.

But for those who like to know about the behind-the-scenes technology, NBC has posted a 10-part series that delves into the mechanics of London 2012. The National Science Foundation has collaborated with NBC for this incredible series ‘Science of the Summer Olympics’ which delves into a variety of different parts of the Olympics, from the biomechanics of the athletes, to the dedicated effort that goes into making the split-second timers.

The NSF’s assistant director for engineering Thomas Peterson said: ‘The work of engineers not only affects Olympic sports, it also helps us perform ordinary activities in better ways. ‘This series will illustrate how engineers can impact both sports and society, and we hope it will inspire young people to pursue engineering. Some of the questions explored in the series include:

  • How does swimmer Missy Franklin use the principles of fluid dynamics to move more quickly through water?
  • What are the unique biomechanics that have helped make sprinter Usain Bolt the world’s fastest human?
  • What does weightlifter Sarah Robles have in common with a high-tech robot?
  • How do engineers build faster pools, stronger safety helmets, and specialized wheelchairs for disabled athletes?

Each video segment will be available to NBC affiliate stations, and for free on the Web accompanied by an engineering-focused lesson plan for middle- and high-school teachers developed by the National Science Teachers Association.

‘The Olympic Games are a time when the world gathers to watch the best athletes compete for gold, and with this new video series, people can see and learn exactly what it takes to reach the top,’ said Soraya Gage, executive producer of NBC Learn. ‘We’re thrilled to continue this successful partnership with NSF and NBC Sports, to provide students and teachers with engaging content that makes learning about engineering both relevant and fun.’

The first episode is available below, and the rest of the five-minute films are available here.

Learn More About The Science of the Olympics at NSF.gov

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