Airdate: Nov 17, 2008
Scientist: Paul Schmitt
KSC Skateboard - Skateboard 101
Want to make a skateboard? Want to ride one? Here are some basics.
music; ambience skateboard park
It may sound like a skateboard park to you, but to an engineer who designs and manufactures skateboards, it’s a place where science meets self-expression.
I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“My name is Paul Schmitt, better known as Professor Schmitt. I make skateboards for a living. I started making them when I was 14, and I’ve made over 10 million of em in my life. So, there’s three major parts of a skateboard. We have the wheels, and the wheels have bearings inside them that they roll upon, and then we have the trucks. The trucks fasten the wheels to the board, and they alsothey make the skateboard turn. They’re a steering mechanism. So, what happens is you fasten thethe wheels to the trucks, the trucks to the board, and when you stand on that board, and you lean your weight to the right, you’ll turn to the right. You lean your way to the left, you turn to the left. So, it’s your steering mechanism that lets you work. Now, depending on how you like to skate, you’ll put harder or softer bushings in that truck, or you’ll ride Brand A versus Brand B, because you like the way that one works better. The coolest fact about skateboarding is just self-expression. It’s your own creativity. It’s your own use of an environment and how you choose to use it. When you go to a skate shop, you pick out that board, this wheel, and that truck, and your buddy might pick out this board, those wheels, and that truck. And so, everybody’s got their own little combination of what they like and what they feel works proper for them. So, it’s really very individualized even though you see a kid skateboardin’ down the street, and you think that skateboard’s just the same as the one you saw before. It’s actually not, and it’s very unique and specialized.”
If you know a third to sixth grader who wants to learn about the science of skateboarding, then have them check out kidsciencechallenge.com. It’s a nationwide competition where kids come up with their own ideas for scientists and engineers like Paul Schmitt. And if their idea is chosen, they get to see it turned into reality. That’s kidsciencechallenge.com Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.