Science of the Winter Olympics: Stability & Vibration

You think the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are over? Not by a long shot. Glue your eyes back on NBC for the Paralympic Winter Games March 7–16. There, you’ll watch Iraq war veteran and Paralympian Heath Calhoun take advantage of the same technology as off-road motorcyclists do to reduce the vibrations that result when you move over the snow at high speed. Find out how in Stability & Vibration Damping in Alpine Skiing, one of ten videos developed by NBC Learn and NSF that detail the science and engineering behind the competitions.

The Inquiry Guide of the NSTA-developed lesson plans gives you options for facilitating either a hands-on investigation into a science concept or one that follows an engineering design process. They can be used independently of one another, but you might consider using them in tandem. Evaluate whether you think the science or the engineering design inquiry should come first. Consider that engineers depend on their understanding of science concepts to fuel their problem solving and that scientists depend on engineering design process to create the tools they use in their work—not to mention the tools us “non-scientists” use every day.

Stream the video series from and Link to the downloadable lesson plans in editable Word format below. If you make significant revisions, leave a comment to let us know. Like you, we’re always trying to improve!


Stability & Vibration Damping in Alpine Skiing discusses the methods and importance of damping vibrations in alpine skiing.

Lesson Plans

Stability & Vibration Integration Guide spells out the STEM in the video and gives you mini-activities and ideas for research, teamwork, projects, and interdisciplinary connections.

Stability & Vibration Inquiry Guide models a science inquiry about composites and vibration AND an engineering design inquiry in which students build a model ski and modify it to determine the best way to strengthen it.

Image of sit skier, courtesy of Pablo Perez.

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