Cascade Heights 8th Graders Learn Physics through Curling

Thursday October 17, the entire 8th grade class from Cascade Heights Public Charter School visited Evergreen Curling Club to learn about friction and curling.   We had a blast showing the students how to slip and slide 40 lb granite curling stones down the ice in style.Cascade Heights Students Curling 2013_10_17

Teacher Melanie Adams and her 8th Graders are studying Physics this term, and they chose curling as the perfect field trip for learning about friction.   Great idea!   Not surprising for Ms. Adams, a bright, dedicated teacher who goes out of her way to guide and challenge her class (see her blog).

We began the two hour session with a brief talk about the physics of curling.   These are bright kids, and they already knew about the basics of friction, normal forces and motion.   We talked about how the coefficient of friction for ice changes depending on temperature and how friction affects the curl of a stone on ice.   We covered safety, especially the use of grippers to increase friction between student and the frozen curling surface.   Then the 25 8th graders split into six teams and hit the ice with six fine ECC coaches who introduced the students to the basics of curling delivery, sweeping, shot-calling and strategy.

Melanie Adams 2013_10_17I had the pleasure of coaching a great group of four boys who were extremely eager and excited to play.   These guys fought each other for chances to get into the hack, step on the teflon sliders, grasp their teflon-footed stabilizers and glide across the ice with the granite stones, releasing them before the hog line and watching as the stones slid toward the house at the other end.

It didn’t take long for them to gel as a team, and I was able to step back and let them communicate and strategize together.   I love this about curling, every player is involved in every shot.   No sitting on the bench, no counting daisies out in right field, no waiting around for a coach to make decisions.   Just play, play, play.

Kids sometimes get too excited, and one of the boys forgot to step off his slider at the end of his shot.   As he stepped back toward his hack, his slider foot squirted out from underneath him, and boom!, he crashed to the ice on his elbow, thereby learning about both friction and gravity.   Poor guy.   Coach Kathy took him to the break room and wrapped the elbow in a towel with ice from the freezer.   She sat him down to recuperate,, but as soon as he noticed his teammates working together on their next shot, he shot up and ran to join them again.   Such is the pull of curling!

The Cascade Heights 8th graders finished their game, put away the curling gear and enjoyed some cookies baked by Coach Sara before heading out to a pool hall to learn about motion and vectors.   Good Curling, Students!   Come back again sometime.

 Cascade Heights Curling Instructors 2013_10_17