It’s All in Your Head is an activity developed by Learning Undefeated to explore the physics of concussions and how materials science can be used to make better helmets to hopefully prevent long-term injury.
Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury. The brain tissue is damaged when the brain hits the inside of the skull with a high force, essentially bruising the brain.
If an individual suffers a large number of concussions during their lifetime, long term effects including neurodegeneration, the progressive loss of structure or function of neurons, may occur. As research continues into concussions and the long-term effects of injuries, there may be a way to prevent neurodegeneration in at risk individuals.
In this inquiry based activity, your students will discover the mechanics of concussions, test and evaluate different helmet materials, and walk away with a better understanding of how future technologies can make athletic play safer.
Students will be able to
- Students use a model to determine how concussions cause damage to the brain
- Complete the engineering design process in designing a football helmet.
- Calculate averages from trial data collected
- Analyze collision data (including average force and time of impact) to determine the most protective material.
- Describe how padding materials reduce concussion events using the impulse-momentum theorem
Next Generation Science Standards Connections
MS-PS2-1: Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
HS-PS2-3: Apply science and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision.
HS-ETS1-3: Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science Connections
8.6C: investigate and describe applications of Newton’s three laws of motion such as in vehicle restraints, sports activities, amusement park rides, Earth’s tectonic activities, and rocket launches
IPC.4D: describe and calculate the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration using equipment such as dynamic carts, moving toys, vehicles, and falling objects
PHY.4D: Calculate the effect of forces on objects, including the law of inertia, the relationship between force and acceleration, and the nature of force pairs between objects using methods, including free-body force diagrams.
PHY.6C: Calculate the mechanical energy of, power generated within, impulse applied to, and momentum of a physical system;
PHY.6D: Demonstrate and apply the laws of conservation of energy and conservation of momentum in one dimension
Virginia Science Standards of Learning Connections
PH.3A: Newton’s laws of motion
PH.4A: momentum is conserved unless an impulse acts on the system