Mind over matter in sports
The materials required for this science project:
- 30 long distance runners between ages 15 to 18 years
- A running track
- A stopwatch
- 30 bottles of water sweetened with syrup
1. For this experiment, the independent variable is the pre-conditioning information given to the runners before the 2nd race, i.e. (a) that the sweetened water will improve their performance, (b) that the water will not affect their performance and (c) that the water will worsen their performance. The dependent variable is the time taken by the athletes to complete the 3 laps. The time taken to complete the 3 laps is measured with a stopwatch. The constants (control variables) are the age of the participants and the distance of each lap.
2. On the 1st day of the experiment, the 30 athletes are made to run 3 laps around the track. The time taken by each of the athlete to complete the race is noted. The athletes are then divided into 3 groups of 10 persons each so that the average time of the runners in each group is almost the same. The average time is calculated by totaling the time taken by all the runners in the group and dividing by 10.
3. On the 2nd day of the experiment, all 30 athletes are brought to the football field again. They are separated into the 3 groups as mentioned in procedure 2. The 3 groups are pre-conditioned as follows :
a. the 1st group of athletes is given 1 bottle of sweetened water each. They are informed that the bottle contains nutrients required to enhance their stamina and running performance.
b. the 2nd group of athletes is also given the same bottle of sweetened water each. They are informed that the water in the bottle will not affect their running performance.
c. the 3rd group of athletes is also given the same bottle of sweetened water each. They are informed that the water in the bottle will reduce their stamina and worsen their performance.
4. The 30 athletes are asked once more to run the 3 laps around the field. The time each of them took to complete the 3 laps is recorded. The new average time taken for each of the 3 groups is calculated and is recorded in the table given below