# Space hoops.

Sooner or later, someone has to reivent sports for space. Why not you? Start now.

Everyone talks about how Michael Jordan "defies gravity," twisting and turning in midair as he slamdunks the ball. But suppose Air Jordan really could defy gravity. Suppose he played in the Space Basketball League, where everyone is weightless--and so is the ball!

That sounds like a crazy game. But astronauts may be shooting space hoops as you read this. In a mision scheduled for lunch on January 13, astronauts plan to test cut Nerf basketballs, among others toys, on the mid-deck of the space shuttle. Try to predict what they'll find by shooting some baskets here on Earth.

WHAT YOU NEED:

* tracing paper

* pencil

* a partner

WHAT TO DO:

1. Attach the basket to a wall, four feet from the floor, using the suction cups. Mark a free-throw line six feet back and take some shots. Keep shooting till you make a baseket. For each "score," have your partner draw the path of the ball (called the trajectory) as it moves from your hand to the basket. (Partner: If you hve a video camear, film the shooter, then draw from the videotape.)

2. Repeat with the basket positioned at different heights. Try one, two, three, and five feet off the floor. (Or, as an alternative, shoot from the different distances.) Again, have your partner draw the trajectories on tracing paper. (Partner: Draw the trajectories to the same scale.)

3. Now overlay the sheets of tracing paper. How do the trajectories compare for baskets at each height (or distance)? What are the similarities? The differences? When you shoot the ball, where do you aim in order to make a basket? Why?

4. Now predict how the trajectories would look in space. Could you aim the ball the same way? Who would be a better space basketball player, a shooter or a slam-dunker? Would you have to change the game? How?

DON'T STOP NOW!

Of course, there's a lot more to space hoops than just shooting. How could you dribble a weightless basketball? Should you be allowed to walk with it? And how about goaltending and lane violations--how would they be different in space? How difficult would it be to guard opponents withoug fouling them?