By: Bill Bosher
The Olympics, whether summer or winter, are truly mesmerizing. While I am not yet a fan of curling, despite their Russian venue the "Ice Cube Curling Center", the athleticism of the participants in the games seems to defy physics.
Americans were captured with Sage Kotsenburg's win of the first gold medal of the games in snowboarding. His reckless abandon and seemingly spontaneous achievement was a "backside 1620 with a Japan grab". This trick involved four and a half revolutions in the air while grabbing the board in front of his front foot.
Sage, an ironic name in itself meaning a person of profound wisdom, uses language like "rad" and "sick" to describe his work. While his analysis may be in non-traditional terms, the National Science Foundation and NBC Learn have been working on 10 videos that explain the "science, technology, engineering, design and mathematics behind winter Olympic sports."
Valerie Strauss recently wrote a piece for the Washington Post noting that an engineer explain the shape of the "half pipe" and the aerodynamics of sledding while physicists explain the center of mass in ice skating and rotational motion in freestyle skiing.
While I have never seen the academic resumes of the Olympic athletes, they truly understand science, math, physics and engineering in application. Perhaps the lessons of the Winter Olympic Games are not solely about competition and winning medals…the lessons from the games may also be about how young people learn…and how we should teach.