Rachael Flatt will be featured in a 16-part video series starring top U.S. athletes. The series, narated by NBC News' Lester Holt, will be featured on NBC broadcast and digital platforms including www.NBCOlympics.com/science and www.nbclearn.com.
How does angular momentum help figure skater Flatt achieve the perfect triple toe loop? How does elastic collision allow three-time Olympic hockey player Julie Chu convert a game-winning slapshot? How do Newton's Three Laws of Motion propel short track speed skater J.R. Celski to the finish line? These are just a few of the scientific principles explored in a special 16-part video series entitled "The Science of the Olympic Winter Games," presented by NBC Learn, NBC Olympics and the National Science Foundation.
Flatt, a 17-year-old high school senior at Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the two-time and reigning U.S. silver medalist. She may understand the ins-and-outs of the science behind her sport better than anyone else on the ice. The straight-A student's father is a biochemical engineer, while her mother is a molecular biologist.
"I guess it's definitely safe to say that science runs in my blood!" Flatt said. "I jumped at the chance to participate in this project because my parents have passed along their love of science to me over the years and I hope to one-day pursue a career in the field."
In a unique collaboration, NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has teamed up with NBC Olympics and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to produce a 16-part video series focusing on the science behind how athletes preparing for February's 2010 Olympic Winter Games skate, ski, jump and curl to Olympic gold. This groundbreaking collaboration capitalizes on the massive spotlight on the Vancouver Games to make science accessible to students throughout the United States by illustrating how scientific principles apply to competitive sports.
The video series is narrated by Holt and available to viewers on www.NBCOlympics.com/science, www.nbclearn.com, and www.nsf.gov. NBC's "Today" premiered a piece from the series this morning. The project will also be offered to educators as a timely way to incorporate the Olympic Games into classroom learning.
In each piece in the series, an NSF-supported scientist explains the selected scientific principle, while Olympic athletes describe how these principles apply to their respective sports. The science is broken down by capturing the athletes' movements with a state-of-the-art, high-speed camera called the Phantom Cam, which has the astonishing ability to capture movement at rates of up to 1,500 frames per second. This device allows frame-by-frame illustrations of Newton's Three Laws of Motion, the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, friction, drag, speed, velocity, and other scientific concepts.
"Science touches every aspect of our nation's popular pursuits, including its athletic events," said Jeff Nesbit, director of the National Science Foundation's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs. "It's exciting to partner with NBC Learn and NBC's Emmy-award winning Olympic division to present the range and depth of that science to a huge American audience while ultimately inspiring the passions of young people across the United States in all the things science can do."
"This unique project shows just how versatile NBC Learn can be," said Steve Capus, president of NBC News. "We've made a commitment to education and this project is another creative way to support classroom learning using the journalism and production resources of NBC News. Every two years the Olympics captivate us. This project is another way of telling the remarkable stories of athletes who are the best of the best."
In addition to Flatt, the "The Science of the Olympic Winter Games" features two-time Olympic medalist and Harvard graduate Chu (Hockey) from Fairfield, Conn.; 2006 Olympic bronze medalist John Shuster (Curling), from Chisholm, Minn.; 2006 Olympian Emily Cook (Freestyle Skiing), from Belmont, Mass.; and 2010 Olympic hopefuls Celski (Short Track Speed Skating) from Federal Way, Wash. and Liz Stephens (Cross-Country Skiing) from East Montpelier, Vt.