Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Math of Extreme Sports and Skateboarding

Biker, Motorcycle, Stunt, Man, Person  In two years, there will be another winter Olympic with snowboarding.  I got to watch it one year with a neighbor and I was impressed with all the twisting and turning they did.  I know we see things that are as impressive in other extreme sports but what is the math behind the sport?

Would it interest those one or two students who bring their skateboard to school?  What about the student who practices tricks with their bicycle?  How about the guy who heads up to the mountains to practice snowboarding?  Do they know the math they use every time they go off to practice their sport?

Skateboarder, Half-Pipe, SkateboardAfter researching the topic, it became clear that other than ads for certain books, there is very little out on the math behind extreme sports.  If you have a month available, check out this lesson plan for math that involves extreme sports.  It focuses mostly on slope, distance, midpoint, and functions.  It is requires that students create a presentation on one extreme sport of their choice and its associated math.  It integrates videos, math, technology, and the internet so students must research, create, synthesis, and create a final presentation.  It is very well written.

Otherwise you end up looking up the individual sports.  For instance, where is the math involved in skateboarding?  What about snowboarding or biking?  Let's start with skateboarding where there is math involved in both the creation of the board and with riding it although most of them math associated with riding it comes via physics. The Exploritorium has a great section which explains about the composition of a skateboard, the wheels, ect so everyone has a starting point.

CPalms has a great lesson on designing a skateboard ramp which requires the application of slope and similar slopes during the design process.  The lesson includes prior knowledge requirements, guiding questions, and the actual teaching lesson which includes a video, power point presentation, and all worksheets needed.  Although it is listed for 8th graders, it could easily be used in higher levels.

This site in the UK has a lovely article on designing skateboard parks in a general way but this interview from Bed Time Math that shows many of the mathematical topics a designer has to think about when creating a skateboard park.  It explains in detail why you might want a ramp with an angle of 20 degrees instead of 45.

This article at Scholastic impressed me with the various worksheets and lesson plan.  The worksheets incorporate graphing, math, and require students to justify their answers which is a great facet of the lesson.

We mustn't forget the math involved via the physics aspect of the sport!  This site has some wonderful explanations of certain jumps, the math, and lots of pictures showing where the forces are. The Exploritorium also has a unit on the forces involved in certain skateboarding tricks and includes detailed explanations with photos.  To finish off this section, this site has a list of wonderful links to videos, articles, etc to fill out the topic.

Tomorrow I'll look at the math of snowboarding and bike tricks.  Hope you enjoyed today's entry.