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Driving ambition: May 3 STEM Café to explore the physics of golf

April 19, 2017

Why do golf balls have dimples? How do Newton’s laws of motion impact your drive off the first tee? At the next STEM Café, NIU Physics Department Chair and golf enthusiast Larry Lurio will explain what science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) can teach us about golf––and what golf can teach us about STEM. NIU Men’s Golf Coach Tom Porten will join Lurio to talk about how Huskie golf student-athletes apply STEM principles to achieve success on the course.

The free event will be held on Wednesday, May 3, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Two Brothers Roundhouse, 205 N. Broadway, Aurora.

“Golf is a great way to see the laws of physics in action,” says Lurio. “There is no better way to understand the physics of motion than by watching objects move and collide. It’s fascinating, even if you’re not a big golfer.”

Lurio started playing golf ten years ago, immediately applying his physics training to the game. He uses STEM principles to decide on the correct weight for his clubs. “At the very least, physics gives me interesting and unique explanations for how my shots go wrong,” Lurio adds.

Porten says the intrinsic link between STEM and golf is more evident with today’s advancements in technology. “We are constantly applying new technology through new golf equipment or training mechanisms that help our student-athletes put theory into practice both on the range and in competition,” says Porten.

Members of NIU Men’s and Women’s Golf teams will be on hand at the STEM Café to demonstrate how they integrate STEM into their golf game.

“This STEM Café is a great complement to this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships, being hosted by NIU,” says Judith Dymond, who coordinates the STEM Café series. “The physics perspective adds a whole new level of enjoyment to the game. You can really appreciate the complexity of the choices the players are making.” The tournaments, held at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, will take place May 19-24 (women) and May 26-31 (men).

At the STEM Café, food and drink will be available for purchase from Two Brothers.

Monthly STEM Cafés are offered through NIU STEAM Works, part of the university’s Center for P-20 Engagement. Each STEM Café provides an opportunity to learn about the science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are a part of our everyday lives.

All STEM Cafés are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Judy Dymond at [email protected] or 779-777-7713.