Students at Hope Elementary School enjoyed a program on the science of skateboarding Friday, May 2.

Sponsored by Partners for Enrichment, Shane King and Fritz Mead of Wondergy, based in Philadelphia, presented “Skateboard Science,” demonstrating principles of physics such as distribution of force, center of mass, center of gravity and inertia and how skateboarders make use of them.

They started by getting the kids thinking about how a helmet protects a skateboarder's head. First, King had a student try to lift up Mead by himself. When the boy was unsuccessful, he had first two, and then four students try to lift Mead together. With a little help from King, the four students were able to lift Mead a little way off the ground.

Then King further illustrated the idea of spreading out the force of an impact by lying on a bed of nails. Because his weight was distributed over hundreds of nails, lying on them did not hurt, he explained. The same is true when the rounded surface of a helmet impacts the ground – the force is spread out and the head inside the helmet is protected.

The pair also showed how inertia causes an object at rest to remain at rest and an object in motion to stay in motion unless something occurs to change its state. King had Mead stand on his skateboard at the end of the gym and asked him to move across the room to a particular point without touching the floor. After a while, the students figured out that in order to get moving, Mead could push off from the wall.

Mead pushed off, went sailing across the gym and failed to stop at the designated point. Finally, the kids told him to hold onto King in order to stop in the right place.

Later Mead rode four skateboards stacked on top of each other to demonstrate the concept of center of gravity, showing that as long as the rider is centered above what supports him, he can maintain his balance.

And, putting all the principles together, he performed several ollies, the jump done without a takeoff ramp that lifts skateboard and rider together straight into the air.