by Christopher Cascio

Illustrate a simple point that does not require a lot of materials or extensive research for an easy, sports-related science project. Performance studies and simple, interactive experiments offer the easiest procedures with the highest engagement value for your efforts. For example, when science fair spectators can participate in your sports-related experiment and then see how they compare to your pretested athletes, it adds the prospect and allure of achievement to their interest.

## Self-Esteem and Sports

An easy sports-related project for ninth-graders is to research the correlations between self-esteem and sports. Form a hypothesis about whether or not high school athletes are more or less inclined to have high self-esteem than nonathletes, then conduct a simple study to prove or disprove your claim. Prepare a survey that determines whether a person has high, moderate or low self-esteem, and then have a total of 20 students take the survey: five male athletes, five female athletes, five male nonathletes and five female nonathletes. You can then illustrate your results on a poster board and present it at the science fair.

## Stride Length and Height

People often assume that a correlation exists between an athlete's height and stride length, and you could conduct a study to see if this true or if other factors play a significant role and cloud the results. First, select athletes from one sport and record their heights. Then, measure their legs from the point of the hip to the sole of the foot. To record their stride lengths, have each athlete run the same distance on the same surface and mark their foot strikes at a point where they will be running at full speed. Analyze your results to see if height correlates with stride length, if leg length is possibly a stronger indicator or if there is no observable correlation at all.

## Fast Reactions

This easy project that will engage fair-goers. Have a subject stand in front of you with his hand extended, thumb and forefinger poised to pinch something. Hold a meter stick above the subject's hand with the "0" aligned with the top edge of the thumb and forefinger. Without warning, release the stick and let the subject grab it as fast as possible. Record the distance the meter stick fell before being caught, then repeat 10 times and calculate the average. At the science fair, allow people to see how well they match up against your test subjects, and see if you can draw any conclusions based upon your results.

## Balance Tests

A balance study is another effective way to get people at the science fair incorporated into your project. The test is simple: After a one-minute warm-up, each participant gets timed while they balance on one foot. Record everyone's times as well as their ages and occupations. Students can be listed as either athletes or nonathletes. Beforehand, test a group of people at different ages and athletic levels so the people at the science fair can compare themselves to your initial results. As the fair progresses, you can draw conclusions about which traits lead to the best balance.

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."

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