A FUN General Education Course: Physics of Sports J. Eric Goff Lynchburg College
My Background • High School: Physics or Baseball?
and … • Graduate School at Indiana University • Assisted John Carini in “Physics of Sports” (1998-1999)
and … • Senior project at Kenyon College (1999-2000): Physics of a Pitched Baseball • Long chat with David Griffing (Miami, OH) in summer 2000 at Kenyon.
Physics of Sportsat Oberlin College • Satisfied ½ of general education science requirement (one semester course). • Prerequisite: Algebra • Student profile: Nonscience major! • Fall 2000: 6 Students • Fall 2001: 24 Students (Not bad for Oberlin!)
Textbooks • The Dynamics of Sports by David F. Griffing • The Physics of Baseball by Robert K. Adair
Course Description • Reading and homework assigned each week from Griffing and Adair. • Focus mostly on mechanics. • Many different sports discussed (baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, sumo wrestling, hockey, weight lifting, cycling, boating, track & field, skating, gymnastics, etc.) • Lecture demonstrations a must! • Sports videos almost every class.
Assessment • Homework (20%) • Two large midterm exams (45%) • Course participation (5%) • Bring in a video (5%) • No final!! Semester-long course project (25%)
Video Example • 1982 Stanford-Cal Football Game
Another example … • 1984 Doug Flutie Hail Mary Pass in Miami → 62-yard pass, t 3s → and
Course Projects • Coefficient of Restitution (Popular!): baseballs, basketballs, tennis balls, racquetballs, cricket balls → vary surfaces, temperature, pressure • What is best way to run a mile? (Student also analyzed the turns!) • Coach’s advice for hockey dribbling: Practice with a golf ball on concrete. What is the physics?
More … • What is horsepower for pushing a football sled? • Physics of Tennis Rackets (sweet spot, etc.) • What is the trajectory of a dart? • Physics of Bicycles • Analysis of Bowling
Successes • Students love demonstrations! • Bringing in videos assist students in connecting the material to the sports world. • Physics of Sports became the subject of two newspaper articles: “Not Just Bio 101” – Crain’s Cleveland Business (10/15/01) “Famous Flutie Pass Now In Its Own Class” – Boston College Chronicle (11/01/01)
Future Goals • Teach Physics of Sports at Lynchburg College • Continue Physics of Sports Projects with Students (freshman to senior physics majors) • Write a Physics of Sports Textbook (Wait for tenure!!)