What’s in gymnastics except for balance, technique and creativity? Science, of course, and LOTS of it!
Behind every jump, flip, and spin, physics and biology do their work altogether. Science helps gymnasts to do their fantastic work, even if we are not aware of that.
But you don’t need to be an Olympic medalist to figure this out. Even the simplest forward roll that kids do depends on science!
In this article, we’ll talk about how your kid or student can incorporate the science behind gymnastics for science fair projects.
Easy Gymnastics Experiments to Do at a Science Fair
When doing gymnastics, young children must learn about balance, and how it works. With this experiment, they will notice their balancing capabilities and how gravity affects gymnasts.
1. Reverse Wall Plank
This is a perfect exercise that will help you learn how to properly do a handstand.
It’s very simple, yet very effective. You don’t need any additional materials to try this out. All you require is to be close to a wall.
- Start with your body in a push-up position, but instead of placing your feet on the ground, place them on the wall. Try to be as parallel to the ground as possible.
- Start walking backward, step-by-step, on the wall. Coordinate your feet with your hands, and with every step taken, bring one hand closer to the wall. After some time, you will start noticing how your body changes and its center of mass being pulled down, and you will feel a slight pressure on your arms.
- You can consider changing the experiment if you want to show the different balance points when doing a handstand. You can try lifting one arm off the ground, bending your knees, lifting your hips, etc. All these variations can contribute to a greater understanding of balance and the center of mass.
The center of mass in humans lies around the navel. So in order to maintain outstanding balance and a great handstand, you’ll need to keep the center of mass right above your wrists.
This exercise will inspire gymnasts and teachers to ask questions about understanding the importance of balance, center of mass, and center of gravity, while still maintaining a proper posture.
2. Vault Jump With & Without a Run-Up
This next experiment is to prove how important is the run-up when doing vault jumps. Jumps in gymnastics can help add interesting shapes to routines, both on the floor and with equipment.
Not everyone can do complicated air flips, so this is as simple as it gets. You will need a vault, a springboard, space for running, and measuring tape. You can do this by yourself or with more people involved.
- Try to do a jump without having a run-up and measure how far you will get. Simply stand on the springboard, jump, tuck your legs, and get over the vault. Here, you won’t have any acceleration, and the force applied will be equal to zero, so you won’t be that far away from the vault.
- Measure 5 meters (around 16 feet) away from the vault, and this length should be your run-up length. Run and do the jump! You should have minimal acceleration and a significant jumping force. Here, your jump should be more effective, and it will be easier to jump over the vault. You will find yourself far away from the vault.
- The run-up in the third part should be 10 meters (around 32 feet). Run and do the jump again! Here, you will have a perfect speed and momentum to do an amazing jump, and get over the vault easily.
In the end, compare the results from every jump.
Bottom line: To achieve maximum efficiency in jumps and flips, the gymnast should have velocity in order to gain perfect momentum for the vault.
3. You Spin Me Right ‘Round…
With this next experiment, you can demonstrate the abilities of a rotating object and how body placement can affect rotation.
For the science fair, you will need a turntable. But if you want to try this out at home, try using a simple rotating chair.
- Sit on the turntable/rotating chair, spread your arms horizontally and let somebody spin you.
- The moment you spin, bring your arms close to your body. You notice that the spinning gets faster.
- Spread your arms again, and you will see yourself having a slower spin again.
You can do this repeatedly, and the results will be the same every time: you spin faster when your arms are closer to your body. That’s why gymnasts are very careful with their body placement when they’re doing flips, whether from a vault or on uneven bars.
4. How Senses Affect Balance
Balancing and doing tricks on a beam can be seen at many competitions like the Olympics and in everyday P.E. classes.
For this experiment, you will need a beam, noise-blocking headphones, a blindfold, and a stopwatch.
- Walk on the beam with your hands out to the side. Try to notice how freely your body functions. Measure the time needed to walk from the beginning to the end of the balancing beam.
- In the second attempt, put on your headphones, walk again, and measure the time.
- In the third attempt, put on the blindfold, make someone hold your hand in order to prevent falling, and once again measure the time needed to walk from the beginning to the end of the beam.
In the end, compare the measured times, and you can see the differences between every attempt. Limiting your senses can be very challenging, but it proves how important they are when performing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a greater understanding of physics affect my child’s performance in gymnastics?
Having a full grasp on concepts like body placement, body mass, balance, and velocity can help them achieve their maximum when training.
But that doesn’t mean your kid needs to be an Einstein! The scientific concept of gymnastics is easily graspable for anyone with a slight interest in sports.
How old do I have to be to start gymnastics?
All walks of life are welcome to start gymnastics, and age doesn’t matter much. If you start doing gymnastics later in life, you will still experience the physical benefits of doing gymnastics.
Why is gymnastics important in the physical education curriculum?
Gymnastics is the foundation for many sports and activities. It teaches about muscular strength, joint flexibility, balance, coordination, and core strength.
Besides these physical benefits, it also teaches about patience, responsibility and discipline.