Using sport to teach science: interactive exhibits, Teachers TV and maths in sport

We have known for quite some time here at Sheffield Hallam University the value of using sport to teach science.  Sport is ideal for grabbing people’s attention and getting them interested in science, engineering and technology. We often do public lectures which are always packed out by people interested in sport who also want to know more about the science.  We explain complex scientific problems and the hard bit is usually trying to stop the questions at the end. If you’re thinking about using sport to teach science (especially as the Olympics approaches) then here are some resources that might float your boat.


Sports Lab: our very own interactive exhibit in Sheffield’s Weston Park Museum on the science behind the medals.


Sports Lab is suited to all ages. Visitors can enter a virtual bike race, strut their moves on a ‘smart’ dance floor, test their reaction times and check out some really interesting sports equipment among others activities. Well on track to get around a quarter of a million visitors during 2011, it will be off down to London’s V&A in 2012 to celebrate the Olympics. A recent visitor was Howard Webb famous for refereeing the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

Howard Webb at Sports Lab.


Biomechanics.  A 5 minute video on the fascinating and complex subject of biomechanics (from Teachers TV). In the video Prof. Steve Haake explains the tools used by scientists when analysing athletes movements. Steve examines the biomechanics of a soccer kick and golf swing using a state-of-the-art motion capture suite and high-speed video cameras.

Product testing.  A 5 minute video on sports product testing (from Teachers TV). Steve explains how sports products, such as the much criticised Jabulani soccer ball, are designed and tested. There is a description of how the soccer ball is made and high-speed video showing the ball compressing during a kick. Steve also explains how golf clubs are specially designed to make the ball spin and travel further.

Lastly, if you haven’t come across it, +Plus Magazine is a fantastic online resource with a special section on Mathematics in Sport

About stevehaake

Steve is Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. He has a degree in Physics from the University of Leeds and a PhD from Aston University on the mechanics of golf balls on golf greens. He has over 200 publications, including his first book "Advantage Play: Technologies that changed Sporting History" due out in October 2018.

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