Fitness and Science Unite in Sportsology at the Science Museum of Minnesota

Sportsology sign. The two o's are colored and there are 3 Xs placed on the sign.

Welcome to Sportsology!

The Fit Geek is my home base at Twin Cities Geek because I can combine my health interests with my geeky personality. Christina Martinez, the manager of programs and special events at the Science Museum of Minnesota, is a reader of the Fit Geek section, and a couple weeks ago she contacted me to see if I would like to review and participate in the new exhibit at the museum. In Sportsology, Minnesotans can race down to learn about anatomy, physiology, and sports medicine. It was an interactive and engaging experience great for both older adults and young kids.

Hanging basketballs at various heights; someone is trying to jump straight up in the air to touch one

The vertical jump activity: how high can you reach?

Easily my favorite activity is the basketball jumping challenge. Several basketballs are hung in the air at different heights, representing heights of sports equipment—for example, a basketball is hung at 7 feet to demonstrate how high a volleyball net is. The point of the activity is to see the highest basketball you can reach. Despite my sweaty efforts to touch the 10-foot basketball (the height of an actual basketball hoop), I was unsuccessful. My record was 8½ feet; my partner, a fellow exercise-science student, was able to reach 9 feet. The vertical jump is a respected skill for athletes, as it demonstrates how much power the body generates to jump straight in the air. It was fun to see how high I could jump and how I’m not capable of making a slam dunk anytime soon. An added bonus was seeing little kids try to jump at the hanging basketballs.

A man standing, looking at the ceiling; he's attempting to spin in a circle and walk in a straight line to test balance

Spinning practices balance in your ears . . . cool.

Balance is another sport related skill demonstrated in Sportsology. Balance is supported by visual feedback from our eyes, the fluid in our ears, and the nerves that provide input to the brain, and each balancing activity in the exhibit emphasized one system or another to show how we keep our balance. One such exercise involves spinning in a circle and trying to walk in a straight line. Though my eyes were disoriented and my legs were wobbly, the reason why I’m balanced is due to the fluid naturally located in our ears. It’s weird to think that fluid in your ears can contribute to balance, but that’s how I was able to walk somewhat straight until my vision readjusted. I won’t spoil the rest of the activities, but I will mention that dinosaurs make an appearance in one of them, and dinosaurs are awesome.

As someone who heavily studies muscle fibers and is intrigued by the way the body works, I loved Sportsology. Some of the information seemed redundant for me, since I have been studying this material for years, but the activities reflect on complex concepts and make them easier to comprehend. If you have a child who needs to burn off steam, or you want to break a sweat without going to the gym, head on over and play around.

Sportsology is open during regular hours at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and entrance is included with your museum ticket.

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