Question Sheet: Spin, Splat, and Scramble


Before reading:

  1. What is a science fair? Why do you think science fairs exist? 
  2. How could scientific research help improve an athlete’s performance?

During reading:

  1. What is “lift”? 
  2. What role did computers play in Kim’s volleyball project? 
  3. How does topspin affect a ball’s motion? 
  4. According to Ryan, what qualities should the ideal paintball vest have? 
  5. What did Ryan measure in his paintball impact experiment? 
  6. Can the robot built by Patrick, Nathan, and Zachary solve Rubik’s Cube on its own?

After reading:

  1. To which of the three projects described in the article would you have given a prize? Why? 
  2. How might Kim’s research benefit other sports that involve a ball, such as baseball, basketball, tennis, or golf? 
  3. Think of a game that you like to play. Come up with an experiment that might help you better understand or improve your ability at this game. 
  4. Given its abilities, what other uses might the robot that the Utah boys built have? 
  5. Based on the sort of research that these kids are doing now, imagine what profession might benefit from such interests. Describe what you think might be a

    relevant future job for each student.


  1. Research and write a short report on the history of the Rubik’s Cube. The official Rubik’s Cube Web site is at’s Cube). 
  2. Suppose that you’re a sports reporter from Kim’s town. Write an article for volleyball fans about Kim’s discovery and her work as an athlete.


If you were going to plot Ryan’s data on vest padding and impact, what sort of graph would you use? What do you think the data would look like? Why?