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Science Activity (Grades 6-9) from Lessonopoly
THE SCIENCE OF SNOWBOARDING
Objective: Demonstrate the “pumping” effect of a snowboarder on the half pipe by using a playground swing to understand what factors make a snowboarder go faster and higher on the half pipe?
WHAT YOU NEED:
• At least 3 students whose individual weight differs by several pounds
• A playground swing
• 1 meter stick taped to a second meter stick end to end
WHAT TO DO:
1. Have one student *stand firmly with feet far apart on the seat of a swing holding tightly to the ropes or chains on either side.
2. Another student pushes the first student to start the swing motion.
3. The swinging student pumps his or her legs to gain speed and height by squatting slightly at the bottom of the swing and then standing up while moving up to the highest point of the motion.
4. After 5 pumps, another student measures the maximum height with the 2-meter stick and records the height.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 with another student who weighs less than the first student.
6. Repeat steps 1 through 4 with a third student who weighs less than the other two students.
7. For another variation, attach weights to the students’ ankles.
*If standing feels too uncomfortable for the students, then they can do these same steps while sitting in the swing, pumping with their legs.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
1. How did the maximum height of the swinging motion differ by the weight of each student?
2. What difference did adding weights to the swinging students’ ankles make in the maximum height reached?
3. Why do snowboarders want to pump higher at the top of the half pipe hill?
Explain what factors make the snowboarder go faster and higher.
National Science Foundation,
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