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Science of the Winter Olympic Games:  Safety Gear & Concussions in Sports

Science of the Winter Olympic Games: Safety Gear & Concussions in Sports

Author: Terry Brown
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As athletes push themselves to their limits and sometimes crash or collide, they rely on protective gear to keep them safe.  Scientists here in this video explain the physics of a collision and exactly how this gear, especially safety helmets, works to prevent injury.

Source: NFS

Science of the Winter Olympic Games: Safety Gear

Source: NFS


Take this quiz after you've finished watching the video.

In-class Activity

In class we will be discussing concussions in sports, and why it is important to wear protective gear to help prevent concussions.  We will also talk about Return-to-Play protocols in NJ sports.

Warm-up: "Memory" game.  Test students' memory by following the directions on the "Memory" game (sequence of 12 #s on memory cards they need to repeat back to classmate after seeing the cards for 5 seconds). When finished, ask students to reflect on the activity and think about this: What if remembering tw o digits was as hard as remembering 12 numbers? Explain to students that one of the symptoms of concussion is poor memory recall that could make the activity they just did temporarily impossible.  

1. Ask the students for 10 facts about concussions and write them on the board.

2. Pass out the CDC's concussion quiz to students and go over the answers.

Main Activity:

1. To help students understand the power of the hits in the NFL, we will take a few minutes to learn about G-force. Ask the students if they know what G-Force is.  The correct definition is: a unit of force equal to the force exerted by gravity; used to indicate the force to which a body is subjected when it is accelerated.

2. Watch this short video on G-Force to help explain it better.

3. Then look at the G-Forces involved in professional football to understand the gravity of the hits players are taking.

4. Watch this interview with high school athlete Alex.  Ask students if they think the risks of playing football outweigh the benefits for young athletes?

5. Watch this TED Talk "Kim Gorgens: Protecting the brain against concussions" (10 minutes) to learn about the danger of concussions, especially in children and teenagers. Ask students again: do the risks of playing football outweigh the benefits for young athletes?

6. Discuss the ImPact Concussion Management Model for return-to-play guidelines following a concussion.

7. Watch the video from the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs about the imPACT test and their interview with one student who has cheated the imPACT test to get back into the game sooner (7 minutes).

8. Ask students one final time if the risk is worth the reward.  Open the discussion up for the class to reflect on what they have learned from the lesson using the "Concluding discussion questions and writing prompts" handout for written responses.