By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News
BUFFALO — Learning about physics, math and biology might not be at the top of a list of things kids consider fun to do.
Organizers at the Buffalo Museum of Science said they recognized that fact, which is why they put together a new exhibit — “The Science of Sports” — that teaches these subjects but with sports thrown in to add a bit of fun.
“When kids are enjoying sports and they’re out there playing they’re not necessarily understanding all the physics and all the biology that goes with what they’re doing,” said Amy Biber, the museum’s marketing manager. “ ‘The Science of Sports’ is really bringing that to life. It is helping kids learn about all these different areas of science but through play and fun and activity.”
The exhibit is actually comprised of two parts: a travelling exhibit all about football and a museum-organized collection of activities focused on hockey, baseball, lacrosse and sports health. BMS curators partnered with local sports teams — the Bills, Sabres, Bisons and Bandits — as well as New Era Cap, Harris Beach and University at Buffalo Orthopaedics to create pieces to add to the national exhibit about football.
“Buffalo is more than football ... we can’t just focus on that,” said Brian Enright, the museum’s community partners coordinator. “We reached out to Bills and Sabres over the course of a year and a half or so, and we put in the effort to cover all these sports.”
The Sabres organization, for instance, loaned BMS the use of its RapidShot and RapidHands Hockey Simulation Training Systems, technology used by professional hockey players around the world. With the RapidShot, museum-goers can try their hands at taking one-timers from a machine that automatically shoots pucks (softly) toward their sticks. The RapidHands machine prompts users to stick handle a puck over sensors on the ground while watching a screen for directions.
It’s about physics, but it’s also about safety, Biber said.
“One of the great lessons that you learn in this is how to use your peripheral vision while you’re handling the puck,” she said. “Training yourself to keep your eye on the puck but also your head up so you can see who’s coming at you and avoid collisions can help you prevent concussions.”
A sports health and conditioning display drives home that lesson by showing how specialists — like those at UB Orthopaedics — treat injuries and stress the importance of conditioning to prevent injuries.
From a small Putt-Putt-like golf course, to lacrosse and baseball practice areas, visitors can perhaps test out new sports for the first time.
“Maybe you have some hidden talents you never knew about before and you can discover them in this exhibit,” Biber said, pointing out that the exhibit is open for private rentals each day of the week from 8 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.
Birthday parties, sports teams and corporate groups can have private access to all the games and equipment for equal parts fun and learning.
“Hopefully walking away, kids have a better understanding of what they’re doing on the field,” Enright said. “You get to look at sports in a different light than you would normally watching it on a field or sheet of ice.”
And if adults are looking for a chance to check out the exhibit without the kids around, the BMS is hosting a Science Cafe night from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 16. The event is adult-only, and features a bar, guest speakers, competitions and games. The cost is free to museum members, or $5 per person.
“It’s a fun twist on a lecture event. We bring people to talk about science in a weird, interesting way,” Biber said. “It’s like happy hour science.”
IF YOU GO • WHAT: "The Science of Sports" • WHEN: Through Jan. 6 • WHERE: Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo • MORE INFORMATION: Call 896-5200, or visit www.sciencebuff.org
Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.