Sunday, January 9, 2011

Physics: Stopping on a dime

This week the kids used their physics skills to solve an engineering problem: Say you want to build a new basketball court, how much room do you need, besides the court itself? To figure this out the kids collected data on their reaction time, running speed, and the distance you run past the finish line, as you try to slow down.

We decided to consider the slowest reaction time, the fastest speed, and the longest overshoot in order to come up with a safe and conservative estimate for the distance between the out-of-bounds line and other obstructions. The kids observed that most people can't stop on a dime, particularly not during a competitive sport like basketball, and based on our data suggested a minimum distance of 2.5 meters between the court and any walls or obstructions.

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