With the Olympic Games in full swing, kids are probably highly interested in sports right now. It’s the perfect time for middle grade readers to investigate The Secret Science of Sports: The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel, and Penalty Kick by Jennifer Swanson.

Imagine that a pitcher throws a baseball toward you. Think of all things that need to happen for you to hit it with a bat. Your eyes watch the pitcher and the baseball as he or she winds up. Your brain must figure out the speed of the ball, its direction, and angle. Then your brain sends signals to your muscles to reposition the bat to correctly connect with the ball to make it go in the direction you want with the force you want. Understanding the concepts of science, technology, engineering, and math will help make that happen better every time.

The book covers a wide range of topics using examples from a variety of sports. Starting with how body type affects athletic performance, you will learn about such things as the aerodynamics behind competitive swimsuits,  how advances in the chemistry of carbon have led to faster bicycles and better tennis rackets, to how to test reaction time.

Here are some professional athletes testing their reaction times. Amazing!

Bottom line:

Not everyone is an Olympic athlete, but everyone benefits from exercise. The Secret Science of Sports is likely to get young readers off the couch, away from the screen, and outside trying some of the activity suggestions. It’s a win-win.

To Extend the Book:

Science Buddies has a list of suggested Sports STEM Science Activities


Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 – 12 years
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Black Dog & Leventhal (July 20, 2021)
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0762473037
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0762473038

Disclosure: An audio version of this book was provided by the author. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.