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The Science of NFL Football

Words, Science of NFL Football, and NFL, NSF and NBC Learn logos In America, the autumn season means two things--back to school and back to football. To celebrate both events, NBC News' educational arm, NBC Learn, is teaming up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Football League (NFL) to release the "Science of NFL Football"--an informative, 10-part video series that explores the science behind America's most beloved sport.

Episode 1. Vectors

This segment looks at the role vectors play every time an NFL quarterback throws a pass. With the help of former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington, NSF-funded scientists John Ziegert, a professor at Clemson University, and Rhonda Hughes, a professor at Bryn Mawr College, explain how to use vectors to calculate the speed and direction needed for a completed pass.

 View video (3:58 min.)

Episode 2. Projectile Motion & Parabolas

This segment looks at the science of projectile motion and parabolas with the help of former NFL punter Craig Hentrich. NSF-funded scientists Jim Gates, a professor at the University of Maryland, John Ziegert, a professor at Clemson University and Rhonda Hughes, a professor at Bryn Mawr College, explain the significance of vertical and horizontal velocity on the trajectory every time an NFL punter kicks a football into the sky.

 View video (4:16 min.)

Episode 3. Nutrition, Hydration & Health

This segment looks at the physically demanding pre-season ritual of NFL training camp. Professor Douglas Casa, head of the Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut, and athletic trainers from the Pittsburgh Steelers explain what NFL players must do to stay hydrated and replenish the essential nutrients needed to maintain good health during rigorous practices.

 View video (5:11 min.)

Episode 4. Kinematics--Position, Velocity & Acceleration

This segment explores kinematics on the playing field. NSF-funded scientists Tony Schmitz from the University of Florida and John Ziegert of Clemson University explain how the kinematic concepts of position, velocity and acceleration can be used to define how a running back moves.

 View video (5:24 min.)

Episode 5. Geometric Shapes: Spheres, Ellipses & Prolate Spheroids

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt explores the prolate spheroid, the three-dimensional shape of a football, and how it helps an NFL quarterback throw a hard, accurate pass.

 View video (4:09 min.)

Episode 6. Newton's First Law of Motion

In this segment, NBC's Lester Holt looks at Newton's First Law of Motion and the role that unbalanced forces play whenever a ball carrier goes head to head with a defender.

 View video (3:52 min.)

Episode 7. Newton's Second Law of Motion

>NBC's Lester Holt and former NFL kicker, Morten Andersen, look at what's really behind powerful field goal kicks--Newton's Second Law of Motion.

 View video (3:51 min.)

Episode 8. Newton's Third Law of Motion

Newton's Third Law of Motion: NBC's Lester Holt looks at Newton's Third Law of Motion and the role that conservation of momentum plays whenever players collide on the football field, with former NFL linebacker Hardy Nickerson, Tony Schmitz of the University of Florida and Jim Gates of the University of Maryland.

 View video (4:12 min.)

Episode 9. Torque

NBC's Lester Holt looks at how the physics concepts of torque and center of mass are applied in football by some of the games most massive players--the offensive linemen.

 View video (4:28 min.)

Episode 10. Pythagorean Theorem

In the last segment of this video series, Lester Holt explores the path a defender must take in order to tackle a ball carrier, and how this distance--called the "angle of pursuit"--can be calculated by using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the hypotenuse of a right triangle, and the distance of a defender's angle of pursuit.

 View video (3:44 min.)