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A comparison on the ability of different brands of bicycle helmets to absorb shock Featured science projectScience project video

Abstract

The objective of this science fair project is to compare the ability of different brands of bicycle helmets to absorb shock. The experiment will be carried out by dropping a 3 kg weight on the helmets and measuring the pressure of the impact using a ball and pressure gauge.

Hypothesis

A more expensive bicycle helmet will reduce the impact of on the head of its wearer.
 

Scientific Terms

Force, impact, pressure

Background

Bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets are part of the protective gear used by cyclist to protect their heads and skulls from injury during a crash or fall. An effective helmet has to be strong, light-weight and be sufficiently ventiled. As cycling is an intensive sport that raises the body temperature, ventilation is important for keeping the head cool.

The original bicycle helmets, which were meant for road cycling and road racing, have an elongated shape and are made of a thin plastic shell and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam with adequate ventilation. Commuter bicycle helmets, which have a more rounded shape, were introduced more recently.  They are also made using a thin plastic shell and EPS foam. In addition, accessories such as blinkers, mirrors and ear flaps can be found on commuter helmets.

During a head-on crash or collision, a force of impact with the colliding object (eg. a tree, vehicle or another rider) will normally be applied to the point of contact between that object and the  head of the cyclist. This force may cause serious head injuries and may sometimes even lead to  death. However, when a bicycle helmet is worn, the point of contact will be on the outer surface of the helmet. Upon impact, this force is distributed along the  inner surface of the helmet. This distribution of force reduces the pressure on the cyclist’s head and will therefore minimize injuries.
 

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Complexity level:
6
Project cost ($):
50
Time required:
Preparation will take approximately two hours, and observation and recording of data will require another two hours
Material availability:
Easily found at a sports shop
Safety concerns:

Caution should be taken to prevent the falling weight from hitting anyone