Thursday, December 14, 2017
Events

MOSI teaches kids the science of sport with indoor Olympic challenges

As the world gets ready for the Olympic Games to open Aug. 5, Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry has created indoor versions of some favorite events. And the museum is sneaking in some science lessons in the daily event it calls the MOSI Summer Games.

With 11 events including indoor archery, tests of speed and reaction time and exercises for the brain, MOSI has transformed its play space into the Olympicene Village (pronounced "Olympi-seen," it is a real molecule that looks like those famous five rings).

Among the hundreds of hands-on exhibits already there, MOSI has added extras that demonstrate the science behind the sports of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Kids who complete in several events get a medal to take home. There are MOSI Summer Games signs throughout the museum and a scavenger hunt of sport science facts.

Grayson Kamm, MOSI's spokesman, came up with a handy-dandy science guide to Olympic sports:

Sprinting: Usain Bolt's record 100-meter dash time of 9.58 seconds equals a speed of 27.3 miles per hour, quicker than a black mamba snake (20 mph) but slower than a deer (30 mph), greyhound (39 mph) or cheetah (70 mph).

Gymnastics: During events like the vault and uneven bars, gymnasts accelerate faster than a crew cab pickup truck. And gymnasts experience forces equal to being tackled by two defensive linemen in some events, usually on dismount.

Table tennis: Expert table tennis players have a visual reaction time of .18 seconds, while an average player takes about .25 seconds to respond to a ball.

Basketball: Researchers wrote a computer program to discover the perfect free throw: Shoot at an angle of 52 degrees, aim for the back of the rim, and have the ball spin backward three times on its way to the hoop.

High jump: A flea can jump 220 times its own height. That would be like a human jumping to the top of the Empire State Building.

Cycling: In the 2012 Summer Games, riders for the British cycling team had their heads 3D scanned, and then helmets were 3D printed to be sure that the fit would be perfect.

Soccer: The Magnus effect is what allows a soccer player to curve a ball into the back of the goal, rather than the ball going straight. The effect comes when a ball spins through a fluid material, such as air.

Long jump: For an athlete over the age of 17, researchers have found the exact ideal number of strides to take before performing a long jump: 21.

Your Olympic odds: With about 7.4 billion people in the world, the odds of one person competing in the Summer Games are around one in 705,000.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

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