Next Generation Science Standards

physics of basketball - a useful and engaging educational video

Dear colleagues,


I am a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Medical School.  I am writing to bring to your attention an educational video that I think will be of general interest.  It is about the physics that underlies basketball shots, and it is geared to middle and high school students.  It is a bit under 25 minutes in length and is freely available on Youtube (see link below).  The video could be especially useful now, when students need to transition to remote instruction. 


Working with the Johns Hopkins University production team, we made this video as part of a new initiative to produce useful and engaging science material for K-12 students.  I hope that you will take a few minutes to look at it and also share it with your colleagues who teach math and physics.  Although the title says “physics” it could just as easily have said “math”.   Among the points it illustrates are (1) how engineers and scientists simplify complex problems, (2) how different factors (gravity, air resistance, spin on the ball) affect a physical process and can be teased apart, (3) how the force of gravity produces parabolic motion, (4) how the law of collision works, and how students can diagram and predict for themselves the results of collisions, and (5) how small changes in starting trajectories can have big effects on final trajectories after multiple collisions (a nice application of geometric thinking).  The video uses no equations - everything is done with pictures.  Even math-phobic students will be able to fully understand the concepts.


My hope is that after watching this video, a youngster who goes out on the court to shoot some baskets will see things a little differently.




Jeremy Nathans, M.D., Ph.D.

Molecular Biology and Genetics



Howard Hughes Medical Institute

805 PCTB

725 North Wolfe Street

Johns Hopkins Medical School

Baltimore, MD 21205


Jeremy Nathans
Jeremy Nathans
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