Students apply physics to football at the Emirates Stadium

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Students from Kingsbury High School took part in a day of physics and football at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on May 15, 2015. The day concluded an eight-week program to engage students with science by applying it to football.

Prior to the day, students had been attending after-school physics and football clubs where they learnt about such concepts as projectiles, impact area and centre of mass and applied their knowledge in practice on the football pitch.

The project was made possible by a grant from the John Lyon’s Charity and was run in partnership with the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Arsenal and Queen’s Park Rangers (QPR) football clubs.

Arsenal has an existing education program that combines football with learning in several curriculum areas, called the Arsenal Double Club. Arsenal in the Community education officer Jack McNicholl said that through it, the club aimed to use football to encourage young people with their learning and to interest them in new things. He said: “It’s been great to work with the Institute of Physics to develop football sessions that help our participants to understand how physics applies to their everyday lives.”

During the program, IOP physics coaches worked alongside each school’s physics teacher to help students explore physics concepts. They then worked with a PE teacher, or a coach from Arsenal in the Community or QPR to apply their knowledge on the pitch.

At the event, the focus was on the spin and trajectory of the ball and why footballers sometimes kick across the ball rather than straight through it. Students learnt how an additional force comes into play when the ball has spin, and experimented with backspin, topspin and sidespin to see how this changes the path of the ball.

As well as football training and physics activities, the day included a tour of the Emirates Stadium and each of the students were given Arsenal-branded attendance certificates and a goody bag to take home. As well as Kingsbury High School, other participating schools included The Crest Academies, Whitefield School and William Ellis School.

The IOP’s project coordinator, Manchi Chung, said: “This has been a unique partnership with Arsenal and QPR, working together to show that physics and its way of thinking can appeal to any and all students, exploring with them how physics does have something to say about how players can refine their footballing techniques on the pitch.”

Thanks to the IOP for the photography.

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