Unit Intro to Engineering through Sports and the Olympics

Three photos show legs of soccer players around a ball, athlete with arms raised and medal around her neck, interior of a huge, modern stadium filled with soccer-watching fans.
Olympics and Engineering
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Students are introduced to the basic principles behind engineering and the types of engineering while learning about an always-popular topic—the Olympics. The involvement of engineering in modern sports is amazing and pervasive. Students learn about the techniques of engineering problem solving, including brainstorming and the engineering design process. The importance of thinking out of the box is stressed through a discussion of the engineering required to build grand, often complex, Olympic event centers. Students review what they know about kinetic and potential energy as they investigate the design of energy-absorbing materials, relating this to the design of lighter, faster and stronger sports equipment to improve athletic performance and protect athletes. Students consider states of matter and material properties as they see the role of chemical engineering in the Olympics. Students also learn about transportation and the environment, and the relationship between architecture and engineering.
This engineering curriculum aligns to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Engineering Connection

Working in teams, engineers approach creative problem-solving by using the techniques of brainstorming and following the cyclical steps of engineering design process. Engineers are challenged to think "outside of the box" as they envision, design and create complex projects, structures, products, materials and processes. Engineers are intimately involved in transportation, the environment, architecture, sports—and really everything in our human-made world.

Educational Standards

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Unit Schedule

Worksheets and Attachments

Visit [www.teachengineering.org/curricularunits/view/cub_intro_curricularunit] to print or download.

More Curriculum Like This

Upper Elementary Lesson
Olympic Engineering: Design Process to Create Competition Venues

The Olympics are introduced as the unit theme by describing the engineering required to build grand and complex event centers. Then students are introduced to the techniques of engineering problem solving, specifically brainstorming and the steps of the engineering design process.

Upper Elementary Lesson
Engineering in Sports: Energy Transfer in Athletic Gear

Imagining themselves arriving at the Olympics gold medal soccer game in Rio, Brazil, students begin to think about how engineering is involved in sports. After a discussion of kinetic and potential energy, an associated hands-on activity gives students an opportunity to explore energy-absorbing mate...


© 2006 by Regents of the University of Colorado


See individual lessons and activities.

Supporting Program

Integrated Teaching and Learning Program and Laboratory, College of Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder


This digital library content was developed under grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation (GK-12 grant no 0338326). However, these contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education or National Science Foundation, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

Last modified: July 18, 2023

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