Learner-Shaped Technology

January 19, 2008

Science Projects and the NFL

Filed under: education,football,general,science — Mike W @ 6:47 pm

eyeblack experiment The upcoming NFL matchup between the Packers and the Giants on the frozen tundra of Lambeau field this Sunday helped my youngest daughter design an experiment for her upcoming science fair project. She’s been studying heat, so we’ve been discussing what Green Bay fans can do, if anything, to stay somewhat warm during the game.

I’ll share more details once we have data, but it’s the second NFL-inspired project we’ve undertaken in the last few years. The strange picture above was taken during experiments carried out by my oldest daughter when she was in second grade. We were wrestling with science fair project ideas and took a break to watch football when she asked, “Dad ,why do they wear that black stuff under their eyes?”. A visit to the wig shop (for the styrofoam head) and the sporting goods store, along with a borrowed light meter, provided the raw materials.

indoor eyeblack

We didn’t see a difference indoors or outdoors in the amount of light entering the eye, but she conjectured that the light meter doesn’t have the same kind of peripheral vision that we do. She didn’t use those exact words of course.

While we were experimenting, Ricky Proehl (pictured below), then wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers (and fellow Wake grad, I might add), was signing autographs at a nearby sporting goods store. My daughter took the opportunity to ask him a few questions, since he wears eye black. He admitted that there might be a bit of habit and superstition involved, but he felt it really helped him see better, especially indoors. He was really friendly and patient and seems to be a great a guy. We added the eye black with photoshop.

Ricky Proehl

More formal studies seem to suggest it helps with glare and contrast sensitivity and that the grease is better than the stickers. Plus it looks tough! That’s the real reason I wore it while playing high school baseball, since my hitting wasn’t going to impress any girls. I even remember swiping grime out of the tail pipe of my car before one game because I ran out. Gross.

Go Packers! With wind chills way below zero, light glare is going to be the least of the players’ worries this weekend.

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