Skateboarders generally view their activity as more of an art than a science. They don't worry about things such as inertia, force or velocity. It's more about creating while in the moment and pulling off another trick.
But it doesn't hurt for the rest of us to dissect skateboarding with the scientific side of our brains.
A traveling exhibition, "Tony Hawk: RAD Science," opens Friday at the Museum of Discovery and Science, complemented by an outdoor skate fest this weekend. The exhibition shows how skateboarding uses physical principles to produce radical tricks. (Talk about a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.)
Hawk, the greatest skateboarder of all time, lends his name to the endeavor, as he does for many projects. (He's also the greatest skateboarding businessman of all time.)
The show's 25 exhibits include:
Loop of Centripetal Force: Visitors can roll plastic balls up a ramp in an attempt to complete a 360-degree loop-the-loop. Videos show skateboarders landing the trick and wiping out while attempting it.
History Bowl: A timeline displays skateboards from the 1950s (e.g., a slat of wood on four wheels) to modern times and what we may see in the future.
Friction Hill: Visitors can propel different materials down a ramp — some smooth, some rough — to learn how friction effects skateboard speed in particular and motion in general. The signage provides a hint, reading, "The smoother the surface, the better the ride."
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD: The exhibit addresses force, movement and inertia, and tests patrons' knowledge on the effect it has on skating.
Entrance to "Tony Hawk: RAD Science" is included with museum admission: $14 for adults, $13 for seniors and $12 for ages 2-12. The exhibition will run through September. Call 954-467-6637 or go to MODS.org.
Meanwhile, during the exhibit's first weekend, the museum is hosting the two-day RAD Science SkateFest outside the museum, with demonstrations, contests, music and a mini skate clinic. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Finally, Paul Schmitt, of CreateAskate, will help skaters create their own boards from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $40 and includes museum admission. Call 954-713-0930 or go to CreateAskate.org. Alan "Ollie" Gelfand, the Hollywood resident who invented "the Ollie" trick, which revolutionized skateboarding more than 35 years ago, will make an appearance.