Comparison – Throwing vs Hitting a ball (Aero Dynamics)


The idea is to compare different sports types by reducing their complex physics to a few concrete variables. Namely, how far can you toss/hit a ball, depending on its own size and the length of any sort of bat? (e.g. golf club, baseball bat, racquet, … – or none, in case of throwing it yourself, like basketball, volleyball, …)

To reduce the complexity of this setup, it’s best to compare just very few sports with distinct characteristics to each other.

For example:

1) Throwing Basketball  –  2) Throwing Tennisball

3) Hitting Baseball  –  4) Hitting Golfball

To ease the comparison, this setup focuses solely on the total throwing distance, compares which of the sports does fair the best, and analyzes factors why this is.

Some Variables you might want to include:

  • Size of the ball
  • Weight of the ball
  • Size of the bat
  • Weight of the bat
  • Acceleration path (how much do you rotate your body before hitting the ball, how much distance does your arm/bat cross before hitting the ball, …)
  • The initial speed of the ball (at impact or letting go)
  • The surface of the ball (smooth, pimples, dents, fur, …)
  • Including differences in wind speed / direction

Here are some key questions, where you could either put one of them as the main focus of the whole sequence or instead use these to motivate a deeper dive along the way:

  • Why does a large ball (basketball) fly further if you throw it, a small ball further if you hit it?
  • Why does a ball fly further if the “stick” is longer?
  • What difference does the surface of a ball make? Why does a pimpled one fly further?
  • Why do things fly further if you rotate your body when hitting it? Why do you not rotate when putting it? (Golf)


Alternative – Focus mostly on Aero Dynamics

Instead of comparing the aspects above qualitatively, you may also want to go more in-depth into Aero Dynamics. Most of the variables stay the same, but we’d suggest focusing mostly on one sport activity (e.g. Throwing basketball *or* golf *or* …) and analyzing the results that way.

Afterward, you may also like to extend the lesson sequence by comparing the sport with the other options (like baseball and so on) and look out for differences.

Interview with professional triathlete Dominik Sowieja

Professional triathlete and engineer Dominik Sowieja gives insights in his carrer as an athlete but also working as an engineer. In this interview he answers questions from students and is an inspiration to anyone to push one’s limits to the personal boundaries and always try to improve. How technology and his curiosity for MINT subjects helped shape his career is documented in this interview.

This is the link to the video:

Interview with professional cyclist Gerrit Glomser

Former professional cyclist Gerrit Glomser answering questions about his career from students. He is an inspiration on how understanding MINT topics and technology help imporove personal performance. He is now the founder of the company GAIRRIT and helps athletes to perfom better using technology and biophysiological knowledge.

Link to the video:

Balancing a broomstick – center of gravity

Balancing a broomstick on the hand: „Try it with the broom facing up or facing down. What is easier? Try it with a shorter or a longer broomstick. Try walking with a broomstick balanced on the hand.“

Explanation in general:

To have something completely balanced, the center of gravity must be steady/right above the balancing hand. If the top moves out of the gravity center the movement of the hand has to follow directly in this direction.

Broom facing up:

The center of gravity is higher. This means the speed to react can be lower


Swim smart. STEM in the water

(((Deutsche Version)))

Biology and technology meets movement: A concept for movement-based STEM promotion in children and adolescents.

The didactic concept is aimed at students in the 7th grade and above with sufficient swimming skills. Through the experience-oriented learning approach, the motivation for STEM topics is to be awakened and developed – at the same time also for doing sports.

Learning goals:

  • Get to know bionics
  • To experience natural phenomena in a practical way
  • Fun with movement
  • Fun with technology
  • Combining theory and practice in a playful way
  • Interdisciplinary experience-oriented learning (bionics (biology + technology), physics, sports, technology, biology)

Sequence of events: Movement-based STEM learning

After a short joint warm-up on the topic of bionics with practical examples of bionic innovations, the student teams started with the task of building a robotic fish using the Bionics Kit. In the process, components such as servo motors, plastic parts and cable ties were used, and at the end the students were able to control the robotic fish using their own end device. In the process, they learn more background knowledge and virtual assembly instructions with the help of 3D animations and an interactive learning poster. Afterwards, the fastest robotic fish is tested in the pool. After the technology input, the experiments in the water continue. The students go through a total of five stations. At the end, there is a team challenge in which each group builds a raft from utensils such as pool noodles, with which a team member is to be transported from pool edge to pool edge.

Assembling Bionic Fish with the construction kit and the interactive learning poster.

Curriculum references:

  • Fins shapes
  • Swim bladder
  • Marine mammals vs. fish
  • Microcontroller
  • Fin Ray effect (e.g. Fin Ray construction sheet from Festo Didactic)


Robotics and swimming event for students:inside on the occasion of Girls‘ & Boys‘ Day 2022 at the Olympic swimming pool in Munich with 20 SuS (5 teams).

General conditions:

  • Duration: approx. 3h
  • Premises: Room for approx. 20 students for the assembly of the robot fish, swimming pool
  • Number of participants: approx. 20 students
  • Previous knowledge: Swimming skills necessary
  • Equipment: 5 bionics kits, 1 learning poster, workshop material
  • Supervisors: approx. 2 supervisors are needed

Cardiovascular system & performance


This is a short overview (goals, exercises) about combining the topic of the cardiovascular system with the practice of cycling.


  • Students explain stress factors on the cardiovascular system and describe/perform  efficient/healthy ways of cycling


  • comparing (practically/theoretically) sprint cycling with moderate cycling – pro and contra, including dangers for the body
  • discussing key factors for a healthy/safe performance (heat, water, muscle stress, …)

Link to image: Cardiovascular-System-Overview

Link to other lesson sketches: Cycling Topic Collection


Posture / Safety


This is a short overview (goals, exercises) about combining the topic of posture with the practice of cycling.


  • Students list a few measures for safe cycling and perform a healthy posture on bicycles.


  • cycling with different postures (esp. The back) or with various heights of saddle/handlebars and comparing the feeling
  • watching the performance of other students (e.g. via video and slow-motion) and evaluating their form
  • comparing the impact (e.g. on watermelons) with and without safety gear

Link to image: Posture-Overview

Link to other lesson sketches: Cycling Topic Collection


Spinning Top / Torque


This is a short overview (goals, exercises) about combining the topic of torque with the practice of cycling.


  • Students explain why bicycles stay stable during cycling (even during tight turns)


  • Trying to balance yourself while sitting on a standing bike vs. cycling on it
  • „Slow race(driving on a line/course as slow as possible)
  • Spinning  a wheel while sitting on a rotatable  chair

Link to image: Torque-Overview

Link to other lesson sketches: Cycling Topic Collection


Gears & Levers


This is a short overview (goals, exercises) about combining the topic of the Gears & Levers with the practice of cycling.


  • Students compare bicycles to simple levers and explain the applications of the gears.


  • Cycling with different gear settings or bicycles with differently sized tires
  • Using simple levers to lift objects vs. lifting them directly
  • Use detached cycling components to create winches for a better comparison
  • comparing travel distance per pedal cycle  for different settings

Link to image: Gears-Levers-Overview

Link to other lesson sketches: Cycling Topic Collection


Inclined Plane


This is a short overview (goals, exercises) about combining the topic of the inclined plane with the practice of cycling.


  • Students discuss how steepness affects the efficiency of cycling (OR)
  • Students explain and apply different gear settings depending on the steepness of the slope


  • trying out different gear combinations while cycling
    •  … on a horizontal plane
    •  …up a hill (at different angles)
  • comparing travel distance per pedal cycle for different settings
  • runners vs. cyclists on a steep slope –> who is faster – and why?
  • Extra: Looking at the forces applying to the bicycle

Link to image: Inclined-Plane-Overview

Link to other lesson sketches: Cycling Topic Collection


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