Science of NHL hockey: vectors

Sophomore forward Hilary Knight launched another puck toward the net.Vectors. The key to passing a puck, throwing a football, shooting pool, coordinating fireworks, or finding buried treasure. Knowing which way to go is one thing. Knowing how fast to move is another. Put them both together and you’ll be in the right place at the right time!

Find out more in this lesson package, one of 10, created by NBC Learn, in partnership with NSF and NSTA. It focuses on the ability of NHL players to pass the puck quickly and accurately as play moves from one end of the ice to the other.

Although vectors might not be in your middle school standards, show this video to students as an extension or enrichment. From this real-world application of the concept, students will start to build a basis for later learning. Give this one a try and let us know how we can improve it for middle schoolers!

—Judy Elgin Jensen

Photo of hockey player by Jason Kessenich 

Video: “Vectors,” examines velocity vectors through the pinpoint passes of NHL players.

Middle school lesson: In this lesson, students will define a vector as a quantity that has magnitude and direction and make generalizations about the basic properties of vectors and how to add them.

High school lesson: In this lesson, students explore the basic properties of vectors and their components and how to add vectors.

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