Athletes need to understand some basic science concepts so they can work to excel at their sport. Scientifically speaking, the center of gravity is the point in any object around which its weight is equally distributed. Knowing where your center of gravity is and how this relates to a particular sport can be critical to success!

Explore the concept of center of gravity with this surprising challenge!

Materials

 

  • Participant
  • A wall

Procedure

Step 1: Place your left shoulder and left foot against the wall; the entire left side of your body should be pressed against the wall. Now, try to raise your right foot. Can you do it?

Step 2: Move away from the wall and stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Without shifting your weight, attempt to lift your right foot straight up. It will probably fall back down immediately. Now shift your weight so that you are able to lift your right foot and keep it up. How did you change your body position to be able to balance on your left foot?

Take a moment to discuss what is happening. When standing against the wall, it is impossible to stand on your left foot only because you need to shift your center of gravity over your left foot, but the wall won’t let you shift your weight!

 

Athletes take advantage of their center of gravity to help them in a variety of sports. The closer your center of gravity is to the ground, the more stable you are. Having a lower center of gravity is an advantage in sprinting because you are less likely to be blown over by the wind or to fall over if you stumble. Having a high center of gravity can be advantageous in some sports like high jumping where the trick is to get your center of gravity over the bar. If you have a high center of gravity, you are more likely to be able to leap over higher bars!

 

Mad Science of Mt. Diablo sparks the imagination and curiosity of children everywhere by providing fun, interactive and educational activities.  Go to www.MadScience.org/MtDiablo