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Catching air: pro-boarder Shaun White uses physics to soar to great heights.

Lowering his tinted tint  
1. A shade of a color, especially a pale or delicate variation.

2. A gradation of a color made by adding white to it to lessen its saturation.

3. A slight coloration; a tinge.

 goggles goggles,
n the protective eyewear worn by dental personnel and patients during dental procedures.


see periocular leukotrichia.
 over his eyes, Shaun White Shaun Roger White (born September 3, 1986 in Carlsbad, California), is an American athlete. He has been a notable competitor in professional snowboarding since he was twelve years old.

White stands 5' 8.5" (1.73 m) tall.
 stands on his snowboard atop a U-shaped "half-pipe." He leans forward and whizzes down the side of the snow-covered ramp and then up the other side. At the edge of the far side of the ramp, Shaun rockets into the air, tucking his body into a ball and flipping into two rotations before landing.

Extreme snowboarding Extreme snowboarding is a form of Freeride snowboarding that is carried out in extreme terrain, typically containing obstacles such as cliffs, ravines, deep snow, rock gaps and anything else that occurs in a mountain environment.  tricks like this one helped Shaun win a coveted cov·et  
v. cov·et·ed, cov·et·ing, cov·ets
1. To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's). See Synonyms at envy.

2. To wish for longingly. See Synonyms at desire.
 gold medal gold medal

traditional first prize. [Western Cult: Misc.]

See : Prize
 in last February's Winter Olympics. But Shaun's expertise goes far beyond snowy slopes. This 20-year-old athlete is the only snowboarder who is also a pro skateboarder. Since 2003, he has competed against skateboarding skateboarding

Form of recreation, popular among youths, in which a person rides standing balanced on a small board mounted on wheels. The skateboard first appeared in the early 1960s on paved areas along California beaches as a makeshift diversion for surfers when the ocean
 legends like Tony Hawk
This article is about the American skateboarder. For the British comedian and author, see Tony Hawks. For the New Zealand basketball player, see Tony Hawke.
Anthony Frank Hawk (born May 12 1968), known as Tony Hawk
 in the Summer X-Games, an annual action-sports competition. Excelling in both sports has earned Shaun a spot on the A-list of action-sports athletes.

Science World interviewed Shaun to find out how the laws of physics help him conquer radical stunts in both skateboarding and snowboarding.


Whether Shaun is doing flips on his snowboard or catching big air on his skateboard, he relies on Newton's first law of motion Noun 1. Newton's first law of motion - a body remains at rest or in motion with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force
first law of motion, Newton's first law
 for every trick. This law states that Shaun will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force (see Nuts & Bolts, p. 14).

He will rely on gravity to supply this external force to his skateboard or snowboard. To get started, Shaun pushes off the ramp's ledge. Then, gravity pulls on his board and he starts speeding down the ramp, says Paul Doherty, a physicist at the Exploratorium in California. The speed Shaun gains by cruising down the ramp is critical for winning contests. The faster he goes, the higher he will fly when he launches off the ramp's opposite side--and the more points he will score with the judges.


Another factor that influences how high Shaun soars is the height of the ramp. Half-pipe ramps are nearly 5 meters (15 feet) tall in skateboarding and 12 m (40 ft) tall in snowboarding. The taller the ramp, the more gravitational grav·i·ta·tion  
1. Physics
a. The natural phenomenon of attraction between physical objects with mass or energy.

b. The act or process of moving under the influence of this attraction.

 potential energy Shaun will store at the top of it. When Shaun pushes the nose of his board down the ramp, that stored energy gets converted into kinetic energy kinetic energy: see energy.
kinetic energy

Form of energy that an object has by reason of its motion. The kind of motion may be translation (motion along a path from one place to another), rotation about an axis, vibration, or any combination of
, sending him whizzing down the slope.

As Shaun rockets up the ramp's opposite side, that energy of motion sends him soaring into the air--and gets converted back into potential energy. The higher he goes, the more potential energy he'll have. Also, the higher the jump, the more time Shaun has to do spinning tricks, explains Doherty.

"My favorite My Favorite is an independent synthpop band from Long Island, New York. They released two CDs: Love at Absolute Zero and Happiest Days of Our Lives. My Favorite broke up on September 14, 2005, when singer Andrea Vaughn left the band.  thing to do is a really big 360--a full-circle spin," Shaun says.


Before Shaun can catch big air, he needs to be able to skillfully skill·ful  
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.

2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill.
 maneuver his board down the slope.

With his feet strapped facing sideways on his snowboard, Shaun makes turns by "carving." When he leans his weight on his toes, that side of his board pushes into the snow, while the edge of the board beneath his heels pops off the ground.

According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Newton's second law of motion Noun 1. Newton's second law of motion - the rate of change of momentum is proportional to the imposed force and goes in the direction of the force
Newton's second law, second law of motion
, the more force Shaun exerts on one side of his board, the greater his acceleration will be in the direction of that force. So the more Shaun leans to one side of his snowboard, the quicker he'll turn in that direction.

Shaun moves his skateboard in a similar way, but he says it's trickier to control than his snowboard.


"Skateboarding is a little more technical than snowboarding because you have to keep the board with you and you are not strapped in," says Shaun.

That's especially hard when Shaun soars off tall ramps. To keep his skateboard near his feet, Shaun relies on Newton's third law of motion Noun 1. Newton's third law of motion - action and reaction are equal and opposite
law of action and reaction, Newton's third law, third law of motion

law of motion, Newton's law, Newton's law of motion - one of three basic laws of classical mechanics
. This law states that if one object exerts a force on a second object, then the second object exerts a force of equal strength in the opposite direction on the first object.

How does that apply to Shaun? When he reaches the edge of the far side of a ramp on his skateboard, he stomps down on the board's tail end. That causes the ramp to push up on his board with an equal force. This reaction force pushes the board off the ramp and into the air. Once Shaun is in midair, the friction between his shoe soles and the upward-pushing skateboard helps keep the board snug to his feet.


Controlling his skateboard in midair will be critical as Shaun perfects new tricks. This year, Shaun hopes to complete a 1080, or three midair rotations, on a skateboard. No skateboarder has pulled off this spinning stunt yet. "I have been doing [1080s] on the snowboard, and I thought it would be fun to try it on a skateboard," says Shaun.

With just seconds in the air, Shaun needs a quick reaction time to be able to twist around with lightning-fast speed. "It is just a lot of spinning, and when you are not attached to your board it has to be perfect," says Shaun.

Will this pro athlete land the trick? "I came really close [to landing the 1080] last year, but I think this year might be the year for it," he says.

nuts & bolts

Newton's three laws The Three Laws may refer to:
  • Three Laws of Robotics, written by Isaac Asimov
  • Three Laws of Robotic Sexuality, parodies Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics
 of motion describe the relationship between a force and the motion of an object. Sir Isaac Newton published the laws in 1687, but physicists still use them to predict how objects move. As Shaun White rides down a half-pipe, Newton's first law Noun 1. Newton's first law - a body remains at rest or in motion with a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force
first law of motion, Newton's first law of motion
 predicts that he will keep moving unless acted on by an outside force, like friction.

web extra

To learn more about the physics of skateboarding, visit:



Shaun won his first pro-skateboarding title in the 2005 Dew Action Sports Tour.


Shaun wowed judges with aerial tricks in the 2006 Winter Olympics.


Shaun grabs his skateboard while competing in the Dew Action Sports Tour.


Shaun spun around 720 degrees on his snowboard in the 2004 Winter X-Games.

it's your choice

1 The higher Shaun is off the ground, the more -- he stores.

A kinetic energy

B power

C gravitational potential energy

D muscle power

2 A "1080" in snowboarding lingo Lingo - An animation scripting language.

[MacroMind Director V3.0 Interactivity Manual, MacroMind 1991].

A three full rotations In the air.

B one backflip back·flip  
intr.v. back·flipped, back·flip·ping, back·flips
To perform a backward somersault, especially in the air.

A backward somersault.

C a slang term for "good luck."

D the angle of the ramp.

3 What pulls Shaun's board down the ramp?

A friction

B electromagnetism electromagnetism

Branch of physics that deals with the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Their merger into one concept is tied to three historical events. Hans C.

C pressure

D gravity


1. c

2. a

3. d


Jumpstart your lesson with these pre-reading questions:

* Shaun White became a professional snowboarder at age 12. In 2003, at the age of 16, he turned pro in skateboarding. In what ways are these two sports similar? How are they different?

* The "MegaRamp" is the world's highest skateboarding halfpipe half·pipe or half pipe  
A smooth-surfaced structure shaped like a trough and used for stunts in sports such as in-line skating and snowboarding.
. In the Summer X Games X Games Sports medicine The official Olympics of 'extreme sports' sponsored by ESPN, held annually during the summer. See Extreme sports. , competitors can choose to ride from the MegaRamp's two starting points Noun 1. starting point - earliest limiting point
terminus a quo

commencement, get-go, offset, outset, showtime, starting time, beginning, start, kickoff, first - the time at which something is supposed to begin; "they got an early start"; "she knew from the
: One is 19 meters (65 feet) off the ground, and the other towers at 24 m (80 ft). If Shaun White wants to ride at maximum speed, which starting point would he choose?

* In snowboarding competitions, a panel of judges Panel of Judges is an indie pop band from Melbourne, Australia. Members
  • Dion Nania (Golden Lifestyle Band) - guitar
  • Alison Bolger (Clag, Sleepy Township) - bass
  • Paul Williams (Molasses, Jaguar Is Jaguar) - drums
 score a boarder's ride based on factors including the following: height of the jumps, quality of rotations, the ride's level of difficulty, and how well the boarder performed the standard tricks. The competitors are also scored on overall impression. How might Shaun White maneuver his snowboard to keep winning medals?

* Each year, skateboarding is responsible for about 50,000 emergency-room visits in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . Of those injured, more than 1,500 are children and adolescents who need to be hospitalized. Most of these cases are due to head injuries from not wearing a safety helmet. Severe head injuries can result in disabilities including loss of Vision, hearing, and speech. Study the photos in the article. What safety gear does Shaun White wear while skateboarding or snowboarding?


* Have students select a sport besides snowboarding or skateboarding. Then, challenge each student to explain how Newton's laws of motion Newton's laws of motion: see motion.
Newton's laws of motion

Relations between the forces acting on a body and the motion of the body, formulated by Isaac Newton.
 are involved in his or her selected sport. Make sure that students cover all three laws.


LANGUAGE ARTS language arts
The subjects, including reading, spelling, and composition, aimed at developing reading and writing skills, usually taught in elementary and secondary school.
: Divide students into groups. Each group will take on the role of an advertising agency hired by a skateboard-manufacturing company. The mission: Each agency must create a magazine advertisement to market the company's skateboards skateboards

mini surfboard supported on roller-skate wheels; 1960s craze enjoyed renaissance. [Am. Hist.: Sann, 151–152]

See : Fads
 to the scientific community. To attract these potential customers, be sure to include Newton's laws of motion in the advertisement copy.


* This student-friendly Web site explains the physics of skateboarding tricks:

* For more on Newton's laws of motion, go to:

* In 1965, Sherman Poppen invented the first snowboard. It was called a snuffer. Learn more about the history of snowboarding at:


Name: --

DIRECTIONS: Circle the letters of the correct answers.

1. If one object exerts a force on another object, then the second object exerts a force of -- in the opposite direction on the first object.

a. greater amplitude

b. equal acceleration

c. equal strength

d. greater strength

2. When a snowboarder pushes off the top of a half-pipe, -- pulls the boarder down the ramp.

a. gravity

b. friction

c. potential energy

d. kinetic energy

3. The higher a ramp, the more -- a skateboarder will store at the top of it.

a. kinetic energy

b. gravitational potential energy

c. friction d. mass

4. Newton's -- law of motion states: An object at rest will remain at rest and an object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

a. first

b. second

c. third

d. fourth

5. The greater the force exerted on an object, the greater the object's -- will be in the direction of the force.

a. mass

b. acceleration

c. potential energy

d. friction


1. c

2. a

3. b

4. a

5. b

READING COMPREHENSION Reading comprehension can be defined as the level of understanding of a passage or text. For normal reading rates (around 200-220 words per minute) an acceptable level of comprehension is above 75%.  

Name: --

Go Skateboarding!

In "Catching Air" (p. 12), you learned that Shaun White relies on Newton's laws of motion to tackle high-flying stunts on his skateboard or snowboard. Let's review the laws. Use the article to help you complete the following sections.

Newton's First Law of Motion

1. Shaun White is standing on top of his skateboard, which is resting on the ground. According to the first law, he and his skateboard will remain at rest unless they are acted upon by --.

2. Shaun is tired of standing still. He wants to move forward on his skateboard. What does he need to do in order to move forward? Explain the action in terms of Newton's first law of motion.

3. The law also states: An object in motion will continue moving unless it is acted upon by the answer to question 1. Based on this, what might cause Shaun, who is moving slowly on his skateboard, to stop moving?

Newton's Second Law of Motion

1. According to this law: The greater the force Shaun t exerts on his skateboard, --.

This law can be summed up with this formula:

Force (newtons) = Mass (kilograms) x Acceleration (meters/[second.sup.2]), written as N = kgm/[s.sup.2]

That means that the force on an object is equal to its mass times its acceleration.

2. Suppose a force of 210N is exerted on Shaun and his skateboard, causing them to accelerate at a rate of 3 m/[s.sup.2]. Use the formula to calculate the mass of Shaun and his skateboard.

Newton's Third Law of Motion

1. State the law:

2. Shaun decides to practice his jumps. He, with his skateboard, stomps on the ground with a force of 70N. How much force does the ground push back on Shaun and his board in kgm/[s.sup.2]?


Newton's First Law of Motion

1. an outside force

2. Since Shaun and his skateboard are at rest, they will not move forward unless acted on by an external force. To get Shaun and his board to move forward, have him ask a friend to give him a push. Or have Shaun use one foot to push against the ground. Both methods of pushing can supply the needed external force to set Shaun and his board in motion.

3. Here are some possible sources of outside force that could stop Shaun and his skateboard: Friction generated between the skateboard's wheels rubbing against the road will slow--and eventually stop--the board. Shaun could also stop by putting his foot on the ground. Or Shaun's friend could move in front of him and his skateboard and block them from moving.

Newton's Second Law of Motion

1. the greater his acceleration will be in the direction of the force

2. The total mass of Shaun and his skateboard is 70 kilograms.

Newton's Third Law of Motion

1. If one object exerts a force on another object, then the second object exerts a force of equal strength in the opposite direction of the initial force.

2. 70 kgm/[s.sup.2]
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Author:Bryner, Jeanna
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 4, 2006
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