Resources for Teachers and Students

Courtesy: National Science Foundation, NBC Learn and The National Football League

Think you know football? Ok, what's a prolate spheroid?

NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has teamed up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Football League (NFL) to produce this 10-part video series focusing on the science behind NFL football.

This groundbreaking project uses the global spotlight of the NFL games to make science more accessible and more interesting to students, by showing how science helps athletes accomplish their goals by exploring concepts from geometry like the Pythagorean Theorem, physics concepts like torque, velocity and accelleration and more.

By the way, prolate spheroid roughly describes the three-dimensional shape of a football.

Science of NFL Football: Vectors

This segment looks at the role vectors play every time an NFL quarterback throws a pass. With the help of former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington, NSF-funded scientists explain how to use vectors to calculate the speed and direction needed for a completed pass.

Science of NFL Football: Punting, Projectiles and Parabolas

This segment looks at the science of projectile motion and parabolas with the help of former NFL punter Craig Hentrich. NSF-funded scientists explain the significance of vertical and horizontal velocity on the trajectory every time an NFL punter kicks a football into the sky.

Science of NFL Football: Nutrition, Hydration & Health

This segment looks at the physically demanding pre-season ritual of NFL training camp. Professor Douglas Casa, head of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, and athletic trainers from the Pittsburgh Steelers explain what NFL players must do to stay hydrated and replenish the essential nutrients needed to maintain good health during rigorous practices.

Science of NFL Football: Kinematics - Position, Velocity & Acceleration

This segment explores kinematics on the playing field. Scientists Tony Schmitz from the University of Florida and John Ziegert of Clemson University explain how the kinematic concepts of position, velocity and acceleration can be used to define how a running back moves.

Science of NFL Football: Geometric Shapes: Spheres, Ellipses & Prolate Spheroids

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt explores the prolate spheroid, the three-dimensional shape of a football, and how it helps an NFL quarterback throw a hard, accurate pass.

Science of NFL Football: Newton's First Law of Motion

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt looks at Newton's First Law of Motion and the role that unbalanced forces play whenever a ball carrier goes head to head with a defender.

Science of NFL Football: Newton's Second Law of Motion

NBC's Lester Holt and former NFL kicker, Morten Andersen, look at what's really behind powerful field goal kicks--Newton's Second Law of Motion.

Science of NFL Football: Newton's Third Law of Motion

NBC's Lester Holt looks at Newton's Third Law of Motion and the role that conservation of momentum plays whenever players collide on the football field, with former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson, Tony Schmitz of the University of Florida and Jim Gates of the University of Maryland.

Science of NFL Football: Offensive linemen and torque

NBC's Lester Holt looks at how the physics concepts of torque and center of mass are applied in football by some of the games most massive players--the offensive linemen.

Science of NFL Football: Tackling and the Pythagorean Theorem

In the last segment of this video series, Lester Holt explores the path a defender must take in order to tackle a ball carrier, and how this distance--called the "angle of pursuit"--can be calculated by using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse of a right triangle, and the distance of a defender's angle of pursuit.

Distributed by NIEonline.com with permission
View more Special Reports: