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volleyball by brittney and maggie

We're Brittney and Maggie, and whether we're bumping, setting, or spiking, volleyball is our favorite game. Like any team activity, communication really helps. Sharing information and cheering on our teammates guides and motivates our teammates during this lightening-fast game. But how much is too much? Our DragonflyTV query is this: Is talking on the court helpful or just plain distracting?

What did we do?
We scrimmaged with another team to test whether the number of players communicating influenced our team's success. We played ten serves where no player talked, ten serves where only the captain talked, and ten serves where all six players talked.

What did we find out?
We learned that our team did the best when everyone was communicating. We know, though, that this is a skill that comes only after a lot of practice and time together.

What can you do?
• Some people can "filter out" distracting sounds better than others. Get a group of friends and try an experiment. Have one friend be the listener, and three other friends be talkers. Two of the talkers will each recite a different fairy tale. The third talker will tell an unfamiliar story. When you are ready to begin, all three talkers start talking on top of each other. The listener closes her eyes, and tries to listen to the unfamiliar story, filtering out the other talkers. After 2 minutes of chatter, everybody stops talking, and the listener tries to re-tell the unfamiliar story. How many details will she get?

• Remember the trick of talking to someone using two cups and a long string? Remember the game of "telephone", where you pass a message along from person-to-person, and by the end the message comes out completely different? Try an experiment using both games! Make a set of several cups-and-string communicators. Get some friends, and spread yourselves apart. Make sure there is a cup-and-string communicator between each pair of people. Have the first person start a message through the cup-and-string to the next person. The second person continues the message to the next player through the next cup-and-string, and so on. How effective is this communication method? Can you improve the results by changing the kind of string, or the size of the cup?

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