Sports Alive!

Project Summary

Sports Alive! an interactive exhibition developed by Science Alive!, provided a fun way for visitors to explore the science and technology behind popular sports.

Visitors ran, jumped, kicked, threw and raced through challenges from ten different sports, competing against friends and family. Challenges included cycling and rowing races, ball passing and throwing competitions, and tests of speed and accuracy.

Visitors could compare the kilojoules burned playing different sports, find out how the sports compared in developing stamina, speed, coordination and muscles, and test their reaction time and balancing skills.

Sports Alive! offered a stimulating environment where visitors were encouraged to get active, while learning about how science and technology can make a difference to their sporting performance. The exhibition was hugely popular with both children and adults and has since travelled to other venues in New Zealand.

Exploring the science and technology behind popular sports

Visitors compete in sporting challenges with family and friends to test their sporting skills, while discovering the physics, biology and technologies behind the sports. Through interactive exhibits, Sports Alive! makes learning about the scientific principles behind sport fun, interesting and entertaining (plus a little exhausting!).

Touring Exhibition

Sports Alive! is designed and constructed for touring.

Backdrops and booths are easy to set up and pack down, and fabricated from strong, lightweight materials. Exhibition graphics feature bright energetic colours and images, and contain useful, interesting information for visitors. The exhibition environment uses big screen monitors, sports equipment, state-of-the-art simulators and speed radar. Ball exhibits are contained within safety nets.


  • to show the science and technology behind the sports
  • to provide a stimulating environment where visitors are encouraged to get active
  • to promote participation in sport through activities and sports organisation involvement
  • to create fun, challenging learning experience for all ages.

Target Audience

Like sport, everyone! Families, friends, students, young and old. Through a range of popular sports – cricket, netball, basketball, rugby, rowing, golf, cycling, football – the exhibition has wide appeal. For schools and education groups, Sports Alive! provides an informative interactive educational experience.

The Components

Sports Alive! consists of eight stations based around popular sports and is supported by additional exhibits.

Stations include:

  • a physical activity for visitors to test their performance and compete against others
  • graphics panels with user instructions and a science or technology concept behind the exhibit
  • challenge cards for visitors to complete.

The Stations

  • Ball Throw
    Throw the ball at the target and test your speed and accuracy. How fast can you throw a ball? The speed of the throw is measured by speed radar and displayed on a monitor. Find out how to throw fast and accurately. Learn about radar guns and the Doppler Effect.
  • Basketball
    Compete in a free throw shoot out. Is your shot ‘soft’ or a ‘brick’? Who has the shooter’s touch? Find out how to successfully shoot a free throw using backspin and forces. Learn about muscle memory and visualisation.
  • Cycling
    Compete against a friend in a race to the finish line. Who has the legs to win the leader’s yellow jersey? The exhibit uses high tech cycling trainers and visitors monitor their progress on the screen. What happens when the wind speed increases? Find out about aerodynamic drag and streamlining.
  • Football
    Challenge a friend to a penalty shootout. Who has the accuracy, speed and power to score a goal? The speed of the kick is measured by radar. Find out about momentum and sports.
  • Golf
    Compete in a putting contest. Try different clubs. How do they affect your performance. Will you hit a hole in one? Find out how to hole the ball and learn about golf clubs and competitive advantage in sport.
  • Netball
    Test your goal shooting skills. Are you a sharp shooter? Find out about projectiles and trajectories in sport.
  • Rowing
    Compete against a friend in a rowing race. Test your rowing technique and stamina. Visitors race against each other in a simulated race using rowing ergometers and can watch their progress in the race on the monitor.
  • Rugby
    Pass the ball through the target. How does the shape of the ball affect your throw?

Additional Exhibits

  • Reaction Time
    How fast are you? Hit the corresponding coloured light and see your time displayed. Who has the fastest reaction time?
  • Nutrition Wheel
    How many kilojoules in your favourite foods? How many kilojoules do you burn playing your favourite sport? Turn the wheel to find out.
  • Balance Test
    How good is your balance? Stand on the balancing board and watch the timer. Find out how your eyes, ears, brain and muscles work together to keep you balanced.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Jump
    How much force is in your jump and landing? Jump onto and off the platforms to compare the force of jumping vs landing. A graph on the monitor shows the force of your jump in Newtons. How far can you jump horizontally? How much force is in your take off compared with your landing? Find out about ground reaction forces and how athletes reduce the effects of impact.
  • Sprint
    Find out if your sport is good for developing stamina, speed, coordination and muscles. Try another sport. How does it compare?
  • Compare Sports
    When the light turns green, sprint as fast as you can to the end. Your time is displayed on the readout.