Science of the Slam: “Big Dunks with Big Data”

Categories:  John Drazan, News and Events, Science of Athletic Performance



Fellows John Drazan and David Hughes collaborated on a STEM activity for an audience of approximately 100 as part of the Black and Puetro Rican Youth Summit. The event was called “Science of the Slam: Big Dunks with Big Data” and was co-hosted by 4th Family Inc. 10 student volunteers from the 3Helix after school program assisted in collecting data using 4 vernier force plates. Force-time data was collected for over 30 student participants in order to find the most athletic students to take part in an onstage dunk contest on a small hoop. The impulse momentum theorem was used to calculate the predicted jump height based on the forces recorded using the force plates.

Unfortunately, this was the first time that we had done this activity and the identifying codes for the students got mixed up and we were unable to use the data at the time of the presentation. The event was still successful however and all the volunteers got a lot of experience using the equipment. The audience was very responsive to the dunk contest, we will certainly be doing this event again.


Physics Classroom visit: Using the Impulse Momentum Theorem to Calculate Final Jump Height

Categories:  John Drazan, Lessons and Activities, Science of Athletic Performance

Fellow John Drazan visited a regents physics classroom on Friday, February 6th to run a laboratory activity. Students were introduced to the material by using the impulse-momentum theorem in combination with the straight line motion equation to calculate the average force used by NBA players to dunk the basketball. They then used a vernier force plate system to record their own force vs time data. This data was used to calculate their take off velocity using the impulse-momentum theorem, which allowed students to calculate their maximum jump height. To serve as a control, students recorded their standing jump height using a marked chalkboard. Comparisons were made between the two methods of jump height calculation and students discussed the possible confounding factors such as differences in effort between the two jumps.


force plate data explanation

Science of Athletic Performance Students Present Work for MLK Day

Categories:  John Drazan


On MLK day the students from the 3Helix program participated in the activities at Hacket Middle school. Student presenters engaged younger students with STEM material using basketball as a vehicle. Approximately 50 students cycled through our section of the program.