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Hotchalk Global

news & tips

A collection of helpful articles on teachers and teaching

The Olympics


The Olympics are here soon and the excitement in my classes is electric. How could I not capitalize on that enthusiasm? So, for this week’s blog it is all things scientific about the Olympics.

First, I love alpine skiing. There is a whole science about the wax and surfaces on the bottom side of the skis. Likewise, the alpine skiing folks also study different types of snow.

To check out the science of snow look at this site.

For the materials science of alpine skis check out this site from Discover.

There will be lots of sites popping up after the Olympics begin. The Olympic committee has several lessons from helping an athlete heal from an injury to Olympic stories from several of the recent Olympics.

Montana State University has an entire series of courses around the winter games.

I know that elementary teachers will want to have access to some Olympic printables. I have not found many but this site has some you may want to use.

There are a couple of sites with general lesson plans. The one that seems to have more science is from “suite 101”.

Now that you have a few sites to get started what do you do with all of this information and make it mesh with your science?  I have always started with the medal count bulletin board to get kids to watch the games.  I ask a different student each night to be responsible for posting the updated medal count by country on the board. The social studies teacher usually agrees to make sure she covers the geography of where these countries are in her class. I have used a world map (National Geographic and Doctors Without Borders will send one to you free) and posted the medal count on post it’s over the medal winning country.

With the count taking care of getting the students to watch the games I now focus on questions. We have an Olympic question box and I will draw questions out of the box when we have a few moments left in class. I ask that the questions have something to do with science. Most of my best questions on the Olympics have come from the student questions.

I know many of you out there will have some amazing ideas. Please share them here. My class will focus on the materials science. We will look at the new fibers in the speed clothing and the metal blades of ice skates. I hope the chemistry of these materials helps the students understand how knowledge of the atom can open a whole world to them.

OK, here is the big site. NBC has teamed with the National Science Foundation to bring the science of the Olympics to every classroom. This site will be loaded with gee whiz science and some stunning videos. I think my class will be visiting this one frequently.

So, get ready for an onslaught of winter games. This year promises to be exciting and because of the resources on the net, available. We may not have the chance to travel to British Columbia but we can take our classes there virtually. How is that for amazing technology?

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