The Science of the Olympic Winter Games

High-interest, high-impact short videos make key concepts like inertia, velocity, and momentum meaningful and exciting for your students.

• Grades: 6–8, 9–12

Through interviews with athletes, coaches, and scientists, NBC Learn's 16-part series unravels the physics, biology, chemistry, and math behind the Olympic Winter Games. The Science of the Olympic Winter Games is made possible through a partnership with the National Science Foundation.

Aerial Physics (Aerial Skiing)

Key Concepts:

• Angular momentum
• Torque
• Moment of inertia
• Contact twisting

Figuring Out Figure Skating

Key Concepts:

• Vertical velocity
• Angular momentum
• The law of conservation of angular momentum
• Laws of projectile motion

Slapshot Physics (Hockey)

Key Concepts:

• Elastic collisions
• Transfer of kinetic energy
• Velocity

Safety Gear (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

• How safety helmets dissipate energy
• Physics of collisions
• Elastic collision
• Inelastic collision

Internal Athlete (Cross-Country Skiing)

Key Concepts:

• ATP
• Muscle contractions
• Energy conversions
• Aerobic capacity

Downhill Science (Alpine Skiing)

Key Concepts:

• Force
• Newton’s 2nd law (force + object = acceleration)
• Gravity
• Friction

Olympic Motion (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

• Cell movement
• Muscle contractions
• Muscle memory
• Muscle fibers and motors

Banking on Speed (Bobsled)

Key Concepts:

• How to maximize velocity
• Acceleration
• Force
• Drag

Competition Suits (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

• Aerodynamic
• Drag
• Synthetic polymers
• Wind resistance

Air Lift (Ski Jump)

Key Concepts:

• Aerodynamic
• Gravity
• Drag
• Lift

Mathletes (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

• Motion
• Instantaneous velocities
• Arithmetic (of the judges scoring)
• Calculus

Blade Runners (Short Track Speed Skating)

Key Concepts:

• Newton’s 1st law (object at rest tends to remain at rest; object in motion tends to remain in motion)
• Newton’s 2nd law (force + mass = acceleration)
• Newton’s 3rd law (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction)

The Science of
Skis

Key Concepts:

• Fiberglass composites
• Torsional rigidity
• Polymers

Science Friction (Curling)

Key Concepts:

• Friction
• Meltwater layer
• Momentum exchange

The Science of Skates

Key Concepts:

• Friction
• Heat
• Meltwater
• Gliding

• Subjects:
Winter, Winter Themes