________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 6 . . . . October 9, 2009

excerpts:

In a vacuum, the best angle to fight gravity and get a ball to travel as far as possible is a 45-degree angle. The ball travels forward as fast as it travels up. Add air to the mix, and you need more forward speed to fight the drag. To clear the ballpark, the batter hopes to hit the ball so it leaves the bat at 130 mph (210km/h) at a 35 degree angle from the ground. (From Baseball Science.)

Pro cyclists test their gear and bikes in purpose-built wind tunnels. Scientists record the air flow around the cyclists as they ride on a static machine. The tests highlight poor air flow, which results in drag and slow the cyclist down. Wind-tunnel tests also help cyclists ride with the best body position. (From
Cycling Science.)

When you pop an Ollie, you put a strong downward force on the tail [of the skateboard]. In his laws of motion, Sir Isaac Newton states that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." So when the tail pushes down against the ground, the ground pushed up against the board with an equal and opposite force. When you jump, the upward force is able to overcome the force of gravity. The board pops into the air. (From Skateboarding Science.)

In a banana kick, the [soccer] ball is made to bend around a wall of defenders and into the back of the net. It is as if there is a magnet pulling the ball. Bending the ball is not magic. It is physics. When a ball spins, one side of it spins in the same direction as the air around it. This side has less air pressure, it curves slightly. The slower a ball moves through the air, the more its path will curve. This bending effect is called the Magnus effect. (From
Soccer Science.)

Speedo's Fastskin suit mimics shark skin. The hydrodynamic design of the suit reduces drag. The Adidas Fullbody suit compresses muscles to keep them from getting tired. Arena's Powerskin suit is made of a water-repellent material. Less water gets absorbed in the suit, which makes it lighter. The new Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit is out of this world. Researchers used a NASA wind tunnel, as well as 400 body scans of athletes, to develop the suit. (From Swimming Science.)

A tennis ball is made with a hollow rubber core, which is filled with gas under pressure…… A tennis ball is bouncy because the gas inside it pushes against the inner walls of the ball. When the ball hits a racket, the pressure makes it bounce…… Warm balls bounce higher than cold ones because the pressure of a gas in an enclosed space goes up as the temperature increases. (From Tennis Science.)

As the excerpts above suggest, the authors of Crabtree's "Sports Science" series successfully integrate a knowledge of six popular sports with their understanding of physics, chemistry, human biology and psychology to explain the science behind particular sports phenomena. These phenomena include reflex reactions, the forces that act on an object moving through air or water, aerobic and anaerobic activity, nutrition plans for training and competition, the consequences of dehydration, high-tech training techniques, and equipment that incorporates recent developments in materials science and digital technology.

Each book in the series begins with a table of contents and a two-page introduction to the sport and ends with a discussion of how science and new technology may change the sport in the future. The introduction generally includes the location and time period in which the game originated and the date when it became a competitive sport. Swimming, for example, has been a human activity since prehistoric times: swimmers are portrayed in cave paintings created more than 6000 years ago. In the 1800s, swimming became a sport in England, and competitive swimming became a recognized sport in the 1896 Summer Olympic games. Depending on the author, the introduction can also include rules of the game, an historical timeline, a definition for "New Words," a "Fact" about the sport, or a text box with the heading "Look Closer" that contains information on the sport, the sport's equipment, or a famous player.

The "New Words," "Fact" and "Look Closer" pieces, which are scattered throughout the subsequent 24 pages of each book, are focused on the contributions of science and technology to the particular sport featured. As one example, in "Cutting through the Air" in Cycling Science, author, James Bow in "Fact! Speedy helmet" lets readers know that a professional cyclist wearing an aerodynamic "aero helmet" has a 16-second advantage over an opponent on a 25 kilometer track. In "Look Closer -- Windy tunnels," Bow describes how pro cyclists use wind tunnels to test the flow of air around their gear and body in order to minimize drag (see excerpt above). The new word is "drag" which Bow defines as "the force that resists the movement of an object through the air." All of the terms introduced in this way are included in a glossary found on page 30. "Find Out More" precedes the index and features lists of books and web sites where readers can access additional information on the sport and the science and technology associated with the sport.

The six books in the "Sports Science" series are designed to appeal to juvenile readers, and they do so superbly. Designer Lynne Lennon has created a template for the series and selected fonts, colours, and graphic details that would be difficult to improve upon. These decisions, when coupled with the photographic and illustrated images (all copyrighted material, gathered by picture researcher, Sean Hannaway) create books that are visually captivating and in places exhilarating. As such, the "Sports Science" series seems destined to entice avid and reluctant readers interested in sports and/or the science of sports as well as girls and boys in sport programs. I also think there are youngsters who will be more inclined to participate in sports after reading how inspiring, invigorating, and scientific such activity can be.

Highly Recommended.

Barbara McMillan is a teacher educator and a professor of science education in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

 Published by The Manitoba Library Association ISSN 1201-9364 Hosted by the University of Manitoba.