Physics Class Gets Collision Theory Lesson on Curling Rink

physics student curling
November 2, 2020

Olympic gold medalist in curling John Shuster met with a UMD physics class for a collision theory/curling lesson

“I organized mini field trips like this to give us a chance to meet in person and for students to apply what they learned in class," said Dr. Margaret Elmer-Dixon

A group of Swenson College students at UMD got a real-life physics lesson in about the most Minnesotan way possible - by learning how to curl with Olympic gold medalist John Shuster. They met at the Duluth Curling Club during fall semester of 2020.

Dr. Margaret Elmer-Dixon in the Department of Physics & Astronomy led the charge. Much of her coursework had been online, but when possible she offered ways for students to meet safely and apply what they learned with a hands-on activity. In September, students launched t-shirts on UMD’s football field. Next up, they gathered at the Duluth Curling Club to see collision theory in action.

Mini-Field Trips to Try Something New

“I organized mini field trips like this to give us a chance to meet in person and for students to apply what they learned in class. It’s gone really well and students have enjoyed trying something new,” said Elmer-Dixon. “Plus, the curling club offered a large indoor space and an activity that could allow for social distancing while also being incredibly fun.”

The students were in Elmer-Dixon’s Introduction to Calc Based Physics class. When Elmer-Dixon came up with the idea of doing something with curling, the manager of the Duluth Curling Club Dick Wicklund got on board and made arrangements with Shuster to provide some expert tips and inspiration. 

“It’s amazing and exciting that John Shuster was there,” said Elmer-Dixon. “He was really great with the students and excited to meet with them. It’s wonderful to have such a supportive community for our students and it was a very memorable experience.”