Companies spend millions of dollars on research and hiring engineers specializing in aerodynamics, materials and other specialties in hopes of gaining a product edge. Engineers play an important role in sports, especially in the design of sporting equipment and high-performance athletics. From tennis racquets to swimsuits, engineers design with the goal of creating lighter, faster and stronger equipment. High-tech, well-designed gear helps athletes perform to their highest abilities while also staying safe. For most engineered sports equipment, energy transfer is the single most important scientific concept. Football pads and helmets must absorb high-energy collisions. The best golf clubs transfer as much energy to the golf ball as possible. Engineers must be able to understand and apply the principles of kinetic and potential energy to design excellent sporting equipment.

After this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Give examples of how engineers help athletes stay safe.
  • Give examples of how engineers help athletes perform to their highest abilities.
  • Define kinetic and potential energy and explain the difference between the two.
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