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supported by the National Science Foundation
This is the portal for a collection of 10 short videos that explore the science behind professional football. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the videos aim to provide engaging real-world examples of key concepts in physical science, including Newton's Laws, momentum and its conservation, Law of Inertia, vectors, center of mass, projectile motion, and geometric shapes. NFL players are featured in each video, with  motion displayed in archived game clips and newly-created video captured with a super high-speed Phantom Cam. Physicists appear in each video to explain the concepts being demonstrated and clarify the connections to physics.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Linear Momentum
= Impulse
- Motion in One Dimension
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Center of Mass
= Projectile Motion
- Newton's First Law
= Inertia in Motion
- Newton's Second Law
= Force, Acceleration
- Newton's Third Law
= Action/Reaction
Other Sciences
- Mathematics
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2010 NBC Universal Media LLC
conservation of momentum, football physics, inertia, kinetic energy, physics of football, sports physics, sports videos, torque
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created April 30, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 11, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
July 14, 2011

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction (Newton's third law). (6-8)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
  • Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference; it is the mass times the velocity of the object. (9-12)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object toward the planet's center. (5)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • Motion energy is properly called kinetic energy; it is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed. (6-8)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time. (6-8)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. (9-12)
  • Mathematical expressions, which quantify how the stored energy in a system depends on its configuration (e.g. relative positions of charged particles, compression of a spring) and how kinetic energy depends on mass and speed, allow the concept of conservation of energy to be used to predict and describe system behavior. (9-12)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

2. The Nature of Mathematics

2B. Mathematics, Science, and Technology
  • 9-12: 2B/H3. Mathematics provides a precise language to describe objects and events and the relationships among them. In addition, mathematics provides tools for solving problems, analyzing data, and making logical arguments.

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Special Collections

This collection of short videos explores the basic physics of football in a way that's sure to spark interest among kids. Each video features an NFL player, file footage of games, slow-motion video captured with a super high-speed Phantom Cam. Physicists appear in each video to explain the concepts and clarify the connection to physics. Topics: Newton's Laws, momentum, inertia, vectors, center of mass, projectile motion, and more.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(NBC Learn, New York, 2010), WWW Document, (https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football).
NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football (NBC Learn, New York, 2010), <https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football>.
APA Format
NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football. (2011, July 14). Retrieved July 22, 2024, from NBC Learn: https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football. New York: NBC Learn, July 14, 2011. https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football (accessed 22 July 2024).
MLA Format
NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football. New York: NBC Learn, 2010. 14 July 2011. National Science Foundation. 22 July 2024 <https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football}, Publisher = {NBC Learn}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {22 July 2024}, Month = {July 14, 2011}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football %D July 14, 2011 %I NBC Learn %C New York %U https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football %O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D July 14, 2011 %T NBC Learn: Science of NFL Football %I NBC Learn %V 2024 %N 22 July 2024 %8 July 14, 2011 %9 application/flash %U https://aws-origin.nbclearn.com/science-of-nfl-football

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