Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Crumb Rubber: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: Aug 03, 2009
Scientist: Adina Paytan

Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Crumb Rubber

Kids' Science Challenge: Claire - Crumb Rubber
You won't find pesticides or fertilizer in artificial turf, but what else is showing up in the water runoff from these fields?


music; ambience referee’s whistle and soccer ball being kicked around; water extraction; soccer game

CD: “I’ve been playing soccer since I was three.”

Well, sometimes Claire Dworsky plays on grass fields, while other games are played on an artificial turf. And while the grass is sometimes greener on the synthetic fields, it’s what’s under the grass that’s got Claire thinking. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Claire Dworsky is one of the winners in the Kids’ Science Challenge, our nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders. She’s testing the water runoff from both types of fields to determine which is friendlier to the environment. Today she’s sampling an artificial turf field.

CD: “When the ball bounces on this [SFX ball bouncing] the crumb rubber jumps up and flies, and it can get in your shoe, which that’s not good, and also when you put your hand down and touch it, it comes off.

Crumb rubber is made from recycled tires, and it’s used on artificial turf fields to simulate the feel, grit and grip of a grass field. Oceanographer Adina Paytan is assisting Claire as she compares the water runoff from an artificial turf field to a sample she collected earlier from a grass field.

AP: “I think we have enough here. What do you see? What’s the difference?”
CD: “This one’s way lighter.”
AP: “This one’s way lighter, yeah. It doesn’t have much color, but what does it have in it?”
CD: “Crumb rubber.”
AP: “It has the rubber, yeah. These black pieces down there. Okay, and now we’ll compare the pollutants in these two different types of runoff that is coming from these grass and turf fields, huh? Nice!”

From the soccer fields, Adina and Claire are off to the lab, where they can see what chemicals might be found in the water samples. You can track Claire’s research at

Pulse of the Planet’s Kids’ Science Challenge is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.