Combining Physics and Basketball in the Classroom: Hands-on Learning for Students

Combining Physics and Basketball in the Classroom: Hands-on Learning for Students

Jun 28 , 2022

As a teacher, it can be a challenge to make physics and basketball seem relevant and interesting to students. However, by incorporating a series of experiments and activities on the basketball court, you can make these subjects come alive and help students understand how physics principles can be applied to the game of basketball.

The first activity is a great introduction to the concept of gravity and how it relates to the students' own physical abilities. By measuring their height, weight, and jump height, the students can learn how to calculate their own body mass and gravitational force. This activity also serves as a good introduction to the concept of weight and how it is related to mass. Additionally, measuring their jump height, students can also learn about concepts such as velocity, acceleration, and the effects of gravity on the trajectory of an object.

The second activity is a lane agility drill which is commonly used in the NBA combine. It helps students understand concepts such as velocity, acceleration, and the relationship between distance, time, and speed. The use of sensors allows students to see the measurements in real-time as they go through the drill, making the concepts more concrete and tangible. This activity also shows students how these principles are used in professional basketball, and how it can be used to evaluate the players.

The third activity involves a series of sprints. Students break into teams and measure how long it takes to run to half court. This activity teaches students how to compute averages and standard deviation to interpret real data. It also helps students understand how to use statistical analysis to evaluate performance and make decisions. This activity also helps students understand the importance of using data to make decisions and how it is used in many fields including sports and business.

The final activity is a shooting drill. Students shoot from several locations and calculate their shooting percentages. During this activity, instruction is provided on proper shooting form. Students learn about the relationship between distance and accuracy and how it relates to the game of basketball. It also helps them understand the importance of data analysis in sports and how it can be used to improve performance. Additionally, by learning the proper shooting form, students also learn how the proper technique can affect their performance.

At the end of the session, students complete a lab write-up and are asked to present on one of the activities. This helps students reinforce the concepts they have learned and improve their critical thinking and communication skills. The lab write-up will help students organize their thoughts and better understand the concepts they have learned. The presentation allows them to practice communicating their understanding of the concepts to an audience and allows them to take on the role of a teacher themselves.

Incorporating these types of activities in your classroom can make physics and basketball more engaging and relatable for students. It can also help students develop analytical and problem-solving skills and improve their public speaking skills. Furthermore, it also allows the teacher to have a better understanding of how well the students are able to apply and explain the concepts they have learned.

Many thanks to SLAC National Lab and the Social Engineering Project for partnering with us on this workshop.