Science Summer EDventure: Olympics in the park

In 2020, the Olympic Games were due to be held in Tokyo, Japan. Well, the good news is that they’re on this year – Tokyo 2021 - and you can catch all the fun on the TV and online.

But, why not have your own Olympics? Sports are stuffed full of great science and so the team at EdPlace have put together some terrific fun-filled investigations for your Summer EdVenture, so it’s time to check them out!

 

Learning objectives:

  • To consider scientific aspects of Olympic Sports

  • To investigate the action of different forces on cycling and running

  • To think about how animals are adapted to their environment and how those adaptations would make them star Olympians in certain sports

 

Activity 1: Velodrome Speedster

One of the sports growing massively in popularity is cycling.  As you know, there are masses of forces involved in cycling: think about streamlining and air resistance, friction between tyres and road as well as friction when you brake.  What about power transfer between your body and the bike and about reducing friction using oil on the moving parts?

So here’s your task: set up a track in your garden, local park or somewhere you’re allowed to cycle and it’s not too busy.  Get as many of your family involved as you can – maximise the laughs!

  • Have a definite start/finish point (say around 100 metres)

  • Get a timer/stopwatch (there’s one on a smartphone)

  • Find a largish empty cardboard box that you can strap to your back (rather like a backpack!) so that it sticks out a bit, but so you can still cycle.

What to do: you’re going to time how long it takes to cycle from your start point to your finish point.  You’re going to do about five goes so you get a reasonable average.  Next you’re going to strap the box to your back, so it’s secure, and cycle the same route, again about five times.  What do you PREDICT will be the difference between your two sets of results?  Why did you make that prediction – what’s going on?

OK, now carry out this investigation and see what your results are.

Was your prediction correct?

 

Activity 2: Will wellies weigh you down?

OK, continuing the fun, let’s move to the running track.  In fact you could use the same set up as you used for the cycling.  Your task is to compare running the distance in a pair of trainers with running the same distance in wellies.  So, what do you need?

  • Have a definite start/finish point (say around 100 metres)

  • Get a timer/stopwatch (there’s one on a smartphone)

  • Get a pair of your wellies.

Again, get the family involved – more folks = more laughs (and more learning!).

As for the cycling PREDICT what you think will be the difference in your running times in trainers compared with wellies.  Why did you predict that – think in terms of forces!

What to do: you’re going to time how long it takes to run in trainers from your start to your finish points.  You’re going to do about five goes so you get a reasonable average.  Next you’re going to pull on your wellies and run the same route, again about five times. 

OK, now carry out this investigation and see what your results are.

Was your prediction correct?

 

Activity 3: Which animal will win the event?

There are loads and loads of Olympic disciplines and some animals that would be absolutely amazing at certain ones.  So, your EdPlace team have drawn up a matching exercise for you – see whether you can match the animal with the Olympic sport you think they’d be best at.  Remember, animals are adapted with special skills for the environment they live in – these adaptations will make them brilliant at particular Olympic disciplines.

Of course, some animals might fit into more than one category, so do the ones you’re pretty sure about first.  You may not know all these animals, so use the internet to find out about ones you don’t know – then you can work out which is their Super Sporting Skill!

Good Luck!

 

Animal

Olympic sport

Brown Bear

Swimming

Rhinoceros beetle

High Jump

Kangaroo

Shooting

Mountain Goat

Running

Archer Fish

Boxing

Water Boatman

Weightlifting

Otter

Rowing

Grasshopper

Diving

Cheetah

Climbing

Dolphin

Wrestling

 

Find the answers at the end!

 

Learning objective recap 

  • Have you been able to think about just how much science there is going on at the Olympics?

  • Have you been able to demonstrate the action of different forces on running and cycling and how those forces affect your performance?

  • Have you been able to find out about animal adaptations and see how those make them brilliant at certain Olympic sports?

  • Great! Well done and enjoy getting involved in your favourite Olmpic sports this summer, along with EdPlace!

 

Now, the fun doesn’t have to stop there – your friends at EdPlace have loads more activities to try out, so why not have a look?

Forces at the Olympics

Forces in everyday life

Friction check up

Air resistance 1

 

Answers to activity 3

Animal

Olympic sport

Special adaption

Otter

Swimming

Streamlined shape, webbed feet, strong tail

Grasshopper

High Jump

Strong back legs, lightweight

Archer fish

Shooting

Able to shoot jets of water from its mouth to knock flies into the water

Cheetah

Running

Flexible spine, long legs, stamina

Kangaroo

Boxing

‘Boxing’ displays used to sort out who’s boss!

Rhinoceros beetle

Weightlifting

Strong exoskeleton, able to carry 100 times its weight!

Water boatman

Rowing

Long third pair of legs with hairs act as ‘oars’

Dolphin

Diving

Streamlined, smooth skin, able to jump out of the water

Mountain goat

Climbing

Feet adapted to grip rock and fit into crevices, great balance, strong legs

Brown bear

Wrestling

Cubs, especially, wrestle and adults may use this to sort out ‘disputes’