Physics is the underpinning of all sports, but forces, trajectories, inertia, or momentum are usually the last thought of someone whose head is in the game! These seemingly dry or boring topics are anything but!

We want to share our love of STEM by showing just how much it touches every aspect of our lives.

What it does

We built a platform for sports-based demonstrations and learning activities to promote interest in STEM fields. The platform consists of a hardware device that is made of off-the-shelf parts (Arduino 101 and Groove Kit components) and an open-source app. We have built a proof-of-concept of a single learning activity, but the platform can be expanded to cover many other topics.

Using the accelerometer data, we calculate the horizontal and vertical velocities of a football as a person throws it. Then we provide that initial velocity information in the app along with a walkthrough tutorial guiding the user to calculate the predicted range using Newtonian physics. Don't worry, we keep it light and fun! Then we encourage the user to experimentally measure out the range to compare it with their calculated value.

How we built it

We used the onboard accelerometer of the Arduino 101. Taking the integral of that realtime accelerometer data, we were able to get velocity information. Then we used the onboard BLE radio to beam up the velocity info to the companion app (written in PhoneGap).


  • 9V battery to input of Arduino 101
  • Groove Kit shield with push button connected to D4
  • Onboard accelerometer and BLE

Challenges we ran into

It was our first time working with BLE. This was a challenge at first since we needed to recognize that you can't think about it like traditional Bluetooth. Once we got the hang of it, it was smooth sailing.

It was hard to program the Arduino 101 once it was put into the foam football. Over-the-air programming would be a great addition.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We were very excited when we first got the Arduino to send our velocity data via BLE over to the phone app!

What we learned

  • Arduino 101
  • Bluetooth LE
  • Bluetooth LE in PhoneGap

What's next for STEMulated SPORTs

We plan to polish the app further, so that we can get it in the Apple and Google app stores. Then, we will publish a guide for educators to follow in a venue like Instructables. We designed the project to require minimal components so that anybody can get started easily.

We want to continue to build learning activities as we go and inspire more people to be interested in STEM fields!

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