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Sporting action: compare the difficulty of real versus virtual sports.

THINK: Have you ever practiced a sport without the aid of equipment like a bat or ball? (For example, practicing footwork, proper hand motions, or your swing?) Can this sort of virtual practice be useful?

PREDICT: When you play a virtual sports game such as Wii Sports or Dance Dance Revolution, you must time your actions with those happening on the screen. For example, as a baseball flies toward your on-screen character, you pretend to hit the ball with a bat by swinging your controller. How easy do you think it is to coordinate your physical movements with what you observe?

You'll Need



soccer or kick balls


[] 1. Count off into groups of 4. Each group needs one ball. Each person needs a sheet of paper and a pencil.


[] 2. Decide which two members of the group will be "real players," and which two will be "virtual players."

[] 3. The Real Pitcher takes the ball and stands 5 meters (16 feet) from the Real Kicker, facing each other. The Virtual Pitcher and the Virtual Kicker stand the same way, to the side of their teammates.


[] 4. Throughout the activity, the Virtual Team will mimic the actions of the Real Team. Virtual Team members must try to keep up to speed with the Real Team's movements.

[] 5. The Real Pitcher will roll the ball slowly toward the Real Kicker. At the same time, the Virtual Pitcher will pretend to roll a ball toward the Virtual Kicker.


[] 6. When the bail reaches the Real Kicker, he or she will give it a soft kick. The Virtual Kicker watches the real ball and the Real Kicker to decide when to "kick" the pretend bail.


[] 7. The Real Pitcher will try to catch the real ball. The Virtual Pitcher observes the real ball and the Real Pitcher's movements to decide when to "catch" the imaginary ball.

[] 8. On a piece of paper, have all the players rank their kicks or catches on a scale of 1 (very easy) to 10 (very difficult). Write down your ranking and note which role you played.

[] 9. Repeat steps 3 to 8.

[] 10. Repeat steps 2 to 9 until everyone has played each role, and has had two turns per role.


1. Compare your four sets of rankings. When you were the kicker, was it easier to make the kick with a real or pretend ball? When you were a pitcher, did you have an easier time catching the real or pretend ball?

2. Judging by this activity, how do virtual sports compare with real sports?

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Title Annotation:hands-on
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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