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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Science of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

Science of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

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Interested in figuring out figure skating? NBC Learn has some cool resources for learning about the sciences through sports, including the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. Apparently, they're partnering with the National Science Foundation to unravel the physics, biology, chemistry, materials science and math behind the games.

The videos are very slickly produced (as you might expect from NBC), free, and run about 5 minutes each. You can check them out here:


You can also find lesson plans and activities to go with the videos on the Winter Olympic Games from Lessonopoly on Gooru:


If you have any resources, activities, or lesson plans related to the Olympic Games, please share them.

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Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture
Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)
Senior Manager of Video Programming, Production, & Curation at Edutopia

This is a fantastic video series -- I've seen it in years past, which makes me wonder if they produce new videos every time the Winter Olympics come around again? Pretty great resource!

The New York Times Learning Network also offers this roundup of their own resources, links, and lesson plans, created during the 2010 Winter Olympics.


Larry Ferlazzo has a good page of resources specific to the Sochi Winter Olympics -- he's been gathering good stuff there for two years!


What a great way to connect content with the natural excitement in the air!

Mariko Nobori's picture
Mariko Nobori
Former Managing Editor and Producer, Edutopia
Blogger 2014

Share My Lesson also has some free lesson plans, activities and classroom materials related to the 2014 Olympics, including presentations about Russian history, videos about the science behind different Olympic events, and suggestions for how to host your own mini-Olympics. http://www.sharemylesson.com/article.aspx?storyCode=50027334

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Facilitator 2014

Here's another resource: National Geographic Education:


They include a very nice description of all the sports, where they are taking place, and a brief history. For example, here's an excerpt from the entry on Cross-Country Skiing:

Using wooden planks strapped to the feet has helped people to travel quickly on snow for hundreds, possibly thousands, of years. The entire Swedish army was using skis by 1500. As early as 1767, the Norwegian army was having cross-country skiing competitions. The first event for civilians was held in Norway in 1843.

Racers compete individually and in teams using one of two basic techniques. In classic technique, athletes ski through pre-cut, parallel tracks in the snow. Both the heel and toe of a skier's boots are attached to the skis, and skiers use wax on their skis to help them glide along.

In freestyle technique, skiers use shorter skis--up to almost 27 centimeters (11 inches) shorter. There are no tracks in the snow, and only the toe of the ski boot is secured to the ski. This allows the skier to go much faster than in classic technique. The skier propels him- or herself forward by pushing off the skis' edge, similar to speed-skating. In fact, freestyle technique is often called "skate skiing."

Personally, I find this stuff fascinating.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Facilitator 2014

That's a nice board, Susie. Thank you for sharing it.

Okay, I have to ask... from one Olympics junkie to another... do you have a favorite sport? :-)

Susie Highley's picture
Susie Highley
Media Specialist for MSD Warren Township, Indianapolis

In the winter, probably figure skating. Summer probably track and field and diving-- all those graceful things I can't do myself!

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Facilitator 2014

Those have been my favorites too, although more and more, I'm finding myself drawn to watching weirdly niche events. For example, during the last summer Olympics, it was women's archery. There's something about the level of dedication required combined with a lack of glory (when compared to other Olympic sports) that speaks to me.

Back on topic though... does anyone know of other education resources around the Olympics? It'd be great to make this thread a central location for finding them.

Suzi Taylor's picture
Suzi Taylor
Outreach Director at Montana State University

I am proud to work at Montana State University, which (we think) launched the first-ever Science of the Winter Olympics site. The site was created in 1998, so the graphics are pretty retro (you'll be groovin' on the orange/purple combos), but the science is still really solid. Good stuff for teachers about the physics, biomechanics and physiology of Olympic athletes. Legend has it that this site was the catalyst for the new, beautiful NBCLearn pieces. http://btc.montana.edu/olympics/

Michelle Macumber's picture
Michelle Macumber
Learning Center Community Leader - VIF International Education

Super fantastic resource (from VIF International Education) to go along with an event that will be watched from all around the world! Teachers - use this, share it with your colleagues, & bring the spirit of the Olympics to every student you know! Not a teacher? Parents - share this with everyone who teaches your children.... because it so seriously rocks!!!! And if you don't have children of your own? Well, share it with a teacher friend, a parent, or anyone you know who realizes that there is no other way than to GO GLOBAL!!!!

(Oh, & by the way, everyone can enter the contest aspect of this at www.viflearn.com & have the chance to win prizes!)


Susie Highley's picture
Susie Highley
Media Specialist for MSD Warren Township, Indianapolis

Very nice resource. Thanks for sharing it. I added it to my pinterest page and tweeted it out.

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