Montana State University

MSU project inspired NBC's "Science of the Olympics" Website

February 11, 2010

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A popular NBC Olympics multimedia Website that explains the science of movement is rooted in a series of online science modules created at Montana State University.

The new "Science of the Winter Olympic Games" site can be found at http://www.nbcolympics.com/science-of-the-games/. It was created by NBC and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the Vancouver Winter Games, which begin Feb. 12.

Its MSU predecessor, called "Sport & Science," was developed through Extended University's National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) with support from NSF.

Developed for the 1998 Nagano, Japan Winter Olympic Games, the MSU site used video and animations of winter sports like luge, figure skating and cross-country skiing to explain physics concepts such as kinemetrics, velocity and angular momentum.

"The original MSU site was designed to help teachers learn and explain physics and other science concepts using the teachable moments and excitement of the Winter Games," said Kim Obbink, director of MSU's Extended University. "Our site has been popular with teachers for more than a decade, and while the Web site graphics are pretty retro, the science is solid. We're honored that this site and its developers could contribute in some way to the new multimedia site created by NBC and NSF."

George Tuthill, who was then a professor of physics at MSU and Deborah King, formerly with the MSU Department of Health and Human Development, were instrumental in developing the site. Tuthill, now at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, said NBC learned of MSU's 1998 Olympic sport and science site through the NSF and contacted him. Tuthill consulted with NBC for the 2010 multimedia project.

NTEN's original Sport & Science site was featured on several teaching and learning sites such as PBS's Cyberschool, and MSU hosted free mini-courses for teachers about winter sports and science.

Links to the original MSU site are at www.montana.edu/outreach

Suzi Taylor (406) 994-7957, taylor@montana.edu