Airdate: Nov 19, 2008
Scientist: Paul Schmitt
KSC Skateboard - Wood
Skateboards are built using layers of Maple wood from the Great Lakes region.
music; ambience skateboard park
The sounds of a skateboard park. The science of skateboards involves designing a board that can stand up to a lot of punishment. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
“The science of the skateboard actually starts in the forest because we make skateboards out of hard maple.”
Paul Schmitt is the founder of CreateAskate.org. He’s designed and manufactured millions of skateboards. And finding the right wood is the first step.
“Hard maple’s a species of wood that grows in the Great Lakes region in North America, and that’s the only place we use it from where it has the right strength and density necessary for a skateboard. So, the hard maple skateboard is actually, on average, made of seven layers of hard maple veneer, and they’re laminated with five layers going the length of the skateboard and two going across the skateboard. And when you put that in a curved mold with glue and let it cure, it now becomes an extremely strong piece of plywood. It is documented that a skateboarder will exert anywhere from 2 to 22 times his bodyweight. Okay? I weigh 225 pounds, so that’s 5,000 pounds 2.5 tons worth of force and energy that that skateboard has to resist when you land on it. So, it’s an amazing strong thing, you know. Now, part of that comes down to your style, because how you bend your knees and hips is how you absorb that energy cause your knees and hips are like your shock absorbers. So, through the whole manufacturing process, ya know, we start here making plywood in this room. Thisthis room is actually temperature and humidity controlled because when you cut down a tree, it stops growing, but it never stops breathing. It expands and contracts based on the humidity and the temperature of its environment, so we control the environment cause that lets us get the best skateboard possible.”
Third to Sixth graders can challenge Paul Schmitt to make an even better skateboard. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.