LU takes on the Olympics

Students learn the science of sports


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Photos



  • Amanda Gerold explains how her luge was modified to accommodate a handicapped athlete.




  • Austin Baird used rubber bands, metal tubing and cardboard to create a machine that shoots baskets. PS: It worked!




  • Jessica Brigante and Skye Summers used dry-wall compound to create an impressive luge course.




  • Patrick Quirk’s model was the result of his research “What goes into a good stadium.”



With the Winter Olympics just passed, once again the world was given the opportunity to witness one of the most exciting spectacles in sport. For three weeks, millions watched the best athletes represent their nations in a broad and sometimes unusual array of sports.

One thing that is not often recognized is that all sports, whether they are played in the summer, winter, indoors or outdoors, have a science behind them. Understanding that science was the most recent assignment for a class of students in West Milford’s Learning Unlimited (LU) program.

Using the Engineering Design Process — a set of steps that a designer takes to go from identifying a problem to creating and developing a solution – fifth grade students created everything from a mini luge, a chair lift and an Olympic stadium to a luge designed for use in the Paralympics. All of the students’ projects were on display and supported by active demonstration at a recent LU Project Night at Marshall Hill Elementary School.

Amanda Burns and Sean Rampolla built an Olympic Stadium out of Legos and wood, while Emily Ginder built a replica of the stadium used for the London summer Olympics in 2012. Kylie Montena and Skylar Greenberg made functional tennis rackets from rubber bands, Styrofoam and wood. Aksel Malatak and Veronica Waltner both chose to apply their knowledge to the creation of a ski lift, both of which were fully operational.

Julie Cheshire, coordinator/teacher of Learning Unlimited, pointed out that the projects not only allowed the students to use their ingenuity in constructing actual operational devices, it also demonstrated the complexity of equipment and machinery that we encounter and take for granted in our everyday lives.

Sixth grade students were given the opportunity to explore a subject they were passionate about, with the condition it involved life improvement or giving back to the community. Topics for presentation included pollution (Sophie Pilaar), healthy eating (Samantha Hazen) and deforestation (Erin Hahn and Alyssa Quigley).

Learning Unlimited provides additional enrichment to students wanting a greater challenge. Classes are offered as a supplement to a student’s regular studies, and promote an environment that encourages concepts such as teamwork, creative thinking and analysis.

- Story and photos by Ken Greenberg

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