NSF helps explain the science behind football

Jeff Nesbit, director, legislative and public affairs, NSF

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 3:09 pm

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

The National Science Foundation is fulfilling its mission, not in a lab, but out on the football field. They partnered with NBC News and the National Football League to produce a series of videos that focus on the science of football.

Jeff Nesbit, NSF’s director of legislative and public affairs told Federal News Radio, nothing succeeds like success.

We started with NBC with the Science of the Winter Olympics and I’ll tell you, it was a phenomenal success. There were 200 million impressions of that video series. An impression is when somebody looks at it on the web or watches it on an American Airlines flight or sees it in a classroom or watches it on television. And that was so successful we decided to follow it up with the Science of NFL Football.


The first mission of the NSF, said Nesbit, is the one everybody understands “which is to fund basic scientific, engineering and technology research and it’s led to things like Google.”

But the second, more transparency based responsibility, said Nesbit, is “to explain the science that taxpayers fund and so that’s what the Science of NFL Football does. It helps in the classroom and it helps explain science concepts to the public.”

NBC, the NFL and NSF got together and talked about “what would it be like to explain the science behind football.” From there, they recruited scientists and members of the Football Hall of Fame who could explain it, each in their own way.

So far, said Nesbit, there’s been a “phenomenal reaction from classroom teachers.” The collaborative effort makes science fun. Segments are about four or five minutes long. The kids get excited about the science of projectile motion and parabolas, geometric shapes, and kinematics. Seriously.

After using the Winter Olympic, NASCAR, and football, to teach science what’s left?

“We intend to continue with this sort of ‘science of’,” said Nesbit. “We’re not quite sure what we’re going to go to next, but it’s been a great series.”

In the meantime, to learn how a quarterback calculates speed and direction to complete a pass and learns to throw the ball to where the receiver will be, and not where they are, please watch the video below and pass it on to the Redskins? Please?