The Physics of Sports

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The Physics of Sports (PHSP) is a science CAA course where students explore how athletes like Tony Hawk and Clayton Kershaw can pull off doing things like throwing a curve ball or doing a 900 on a skateboard by using physics. This course is offered at Bristol and Santa Cruz (All Both Sessions). There are no prerequisites.

Course Description

From the CTY Summer Catalog:

How does a pitcher get a baseball to curve in flight? Why does an ice skater spin faster when she pulls her arms in? How can Tony Hawk land a “900,” a trick involving the completion of two-and-a-half aerial revolutions on a skateboard? Physics holds the key to answering these and other fascinating sports questions.

In this introductory physics course, students use sports to explore mechanics: kinematics, dynamics, momentum, energy, and power. For example, students may experiment with billiard balls as they investigate collisions and conservation of momentum. They may study centripetal forces to determine how fast a race car driver can take a turn. Or they may use kinematics and projectile motion to discover the best angle to shoot a basketball. For each physics concept studied, students explore real-world applications in sports.

Through lectures, hands-on activities and labs, simulations, mathematical problem sets, and research projects, students develop a strong understanding of classical physics and learn the principles that give star athletes an edge over their competitors.