Roadside Science

Exploring science from the roadside and beyond


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Skate Park Physics

Photo and captions by Adrian Lenardic.

Photo and captions by Adrian Lenardic.

Adrian Lenardic, a planetary physicist in Rice University’s Department of Earth Sciences, was checking his pocket radar when a ten-year-old skateboarder asked what he was doing.

Lenardic, a skateboarder himself, explained that he was testing how fast he could go. The boy asked what the average speed of skaters was at the park. “I said, ‘I have no idea,’” Lenardic recalls. “I told him, ‘In principle we can do measurements on the range of skaters who come through.’ I said, ‘You could figure out where you sit compared to the average skater,’ and he was fascinated by that.”

Lenardic handed over the radar and told the boy to test his own speed. “The boy was in awe that this science guy said, ‘Here, you take the instrument,’” Lenardic says. “That’s when I started thinking this could be used for education.” Continue reading