STEM explains the home run – and the strikeout, and everything else baseball

Education |  2 min. read

What makes a curve ball curve over the plate for a strike?  What makes a fly ball fly over the right field wall for a home run?  And if you’re a pitcher or a hitter, how do you make that ball do what YOU want it to?

Kids at Pittsburgh Pirates’ home games can figure that out, and more – in the Chevron STEM Zone, at PNC Park.

Yes, if you’re Starling Marte, patrolling center field for the Pirates, or Jameson Taillon, up on the mound – you have already figured those things out.  But for the rest of us, there’s science.  Or to be precise, STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Which means, in the STEM Zone, you can learn about the aerodynamics of a ball in flight from the mound to the plate (what makes Taillon’s curve ball drop below a hitter’s bat, just before it reaches the bat).  You can learn how to calculate the angle of a ball as it flies out to center (and lands in Starling Marte’s glove), and how Marte makes that throw from center to the plate to nail a runner trying to score.

You can learn about the technology and engineering that go into designing batting helmets to protect a batter’s head, and chest protectors to guard a catcher against foul balls.  You can see how baseballs and baseball gloves are made, and kids can take some swings themselves, and test their launch angles.

PNC Park’s STEM Zone is a joint effort of the Pirates, Chevron and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (and is the first permanent Chevron STEM Zone anywhere in the country).  And if you’re in the Tri-State area (that’s Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia for those of you who live in the rest of the country), you can get in the Zone yourself, out past right field.

All photos from the Pittsburgh Pirates.


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