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Hockey by Tess, Alison, and Christina

Since we love hockey, we wanted to check out some slapshot science. Most hockey sticks are made of wood, but there are different levels of flexibility. We want to know: How does a hockey stick's flex affect our shooting power and accuracy?

What did we do?
We tested wood sticks with three different flex levels: a 65 (flexible), a 75 (less flexible), and a 90 (least flexible). We tested our shot accuracy with each stick by shooting ten pucks into a target inside the net, and recording how many times we hit the target. We tested speed by using a slap shot with each stick, and recording the speed with a radar gun.

What did we find out?
Each of us had the most success with the medium flex stick. In the shooting accuracy test, too much or too little flex messed up our accuracy. In the speed test, we could only increase our shot speed if we could make the stick flex, so the stiff stick was a little too stiff for us. Overall, we found that a stiff stick can improve your speed and accuracy, but only if you're strong enough to bend it. The "best" choice really depends upon each player's strength.

What can you do?
• Investigate how the weight of a stick affects the accuracy of your passing or shooting. What other factors influence your stick performance?

• Does the temperature of a puck affect how easy it is to handle with a stick? Design an investigation to find out.

• Here's a quick way to investigate potential energy. Lay a regular yardstick or meter stick on a table, with only 10 cm (about 4 inches) hanging off the edge. Set a coin on the end, hold the stick firmly on the table, and give the end of the stick a "twang!" How much stick should hang over the edge to get the most energy into flinging the coin?

• Use this hockey investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!

 SciLinks More on potential energy. Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.

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