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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.



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Aerial Physics (Aerial Skiing)

Key Concepts:

  • Angular momentum
  • Torque
  • Moment of inertia
  • Contact twisting
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Figuring Out Figure Skating

Key Concepts:

  • Vertical velocity
  • Angular momentum
  • The law of conservation of angular momentum
  • Laws of projectile motion
 
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Slapshot Physics (Hockey)

Key Concepts:

  • Elastic collisions
  • Transfer of kinetic energy
  • Velocity
 
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Safety Gear (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

  • How safety helmets dissipate energy
  • Physics of collisions
  • Elastic collision
  • Inelastic collision
 
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Internal Athlete (Cross-Country Skiing)

Key Concepts:

  • ATP
  • Muscle contractions
  • Energy conversions
  • Aerobic capacity
 
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Downhill Science (Alpine Skiing)

Key Concepts:

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

Key Concepts:

  • Cell movement
  • Muscle contractions
  • Muscle memory
  • Muscle fibers and motors
 
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Banking on Speed (Bobsled)

Key Concepts:

  • How to maximize velocity
  • Acceleration
  • Force
  • Drag
 
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Competition Suits (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

  • Aerodynamic
  • Drag
  • Synthetic polymers
  • Wind resistance
 
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Air Lift (Ski Jump)

Key Concepts:

  • Aerodynamic
  • Gravity
  • Drag
  • Lift

     
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Mathletes (Mixed Sports)

Key Concepts:

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


Key Concepts:

  • Fiberglass composites
  • Torsional rigidity
  • Polymers
 
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Science Friction (Curling)

Key Concepts:

  • Friction
  • Meltwater layer
  • Momentum exchange
 
 
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The Science of Skates

Key Concepts:

  • Friction
  • Heat
  • Meltwater
  • Gliding

 

 

 

  • Subjects:
    Winter, Winter Themes
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