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Skateboard by Chuck and Jake

We love to go vertical when we ride our skateboards. We wanted to get the greatest performance out of our boards and wondered if choosing the right wheels makes a difference. Our question: How does wheel size affect our skateboarding performance?

What did we do?
First we investigated two aspects of skateboarding, speed and maneuverability. For the speed test we dropped down a halfpipe and recorded the time it took to coast 12 meters on the flat. We each did three rides with small wheels (50 mm) and three rides with large wheels (60 mm). To test maneuverability we set up a soda bottle slalom course and recorded the number of bottles we knocked over. The fewer bottles we hit, the better our maneuverability. We rode the course three times with small wheels and three times with large wheels.

What did we find out?
We were surprised to learn that wheel size didn't make much difference in our speed results. The time it took to travel 12 meters was about 2.4 seconds no matter which wheels we used. We found a bigger difference in the maneuverability results. With small wheels both of us knocked down two bottles on average. When we switched to large wheels, Chuck didn't knock over any bottles while I knocked over three. Chuck felt comfortable on the larger wheels while I didn't feel like I had as much control. We concluded that choosing a wheel size for maneuverability depends mostly on a rider's skateboarding style and comfort level.

What can you do?
  • What other skateboard properties might affect your performance? Try hard and soft wheels or long and short boards.
  • Try an investigation about snowboarding. What factors affect your snowboard speed?
  • Use this skateboard investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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Which of the following sports was never part of the Olympic games?

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