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Ski Jumping by Karl, Garrett and John

We were born to ski jump. Our dads, grandpas and uncles did it, too. But when we check out old movies of them jumping, those guys used some crazy styles! We want to find out: Which ski jump positions work best, our moves or the old-school ways?

What did we do?
We hit a 46-meter jumping hill and learned about two old jumping styles: skis together with arms forward ("Superman"), and skis together with arms flapping ("Cranker"). We tested these against our current style, the regular "V." We tested each position three times, and measured our jump distances with a measuring chain. Finally, we recorded each jump with a video camera so we could double check our distances.

What did we find out?
We jumped farther using the "Cranker" style than using the "Superman," but we discovered that our regular "V" position allowed us to jump the farthest of all. Plus, it made us look the coolest! In the "V" style, we could feel the air pushing against us, holding us up. In the other two styles, the air pushed us in a different way, slowing us down.

What can you do?
  • Part of a successful ski jump is learning how to use the push of the air to let you fly farther. Investigate the push of the air by designing your own parachutes. Try different shapes: circular, triangular, or square. Which shape falls most slowly?
  • Is wet snow more slippery than dry snow? How would you test this? Think of a way to use skis or a snowboard to find out.
  • Do you snowboard? Try investigating the effects of different waxes on the glide of your board. Does the right wax really make a difference?
  • Use this sports science investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
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