Intermediate-Level Science Projects

Determining Your Speediest Shoes

You probably have at least a couple of pairs of sneakers, or at least what used to be called sneakers. These days, specialized sneakers are known as running shoes, crosstrainers, basketball shoes, and so forth. In addition to your sneakers, you probably have shoes such as sandals or dress shoes that you wear for other occasions.

You can do an experiment to test which pair of shoes helps you to run the fastest. It's not hard to do, and you'll have fun.

To do this experiment, you'll need four pairs of shoes. Your control should be your favorite pair of running shoes. Even if they're not shoes designed especially for running, they should be the ones in which you feel most comfortable when you run.

Standard Procedure

If you have a treadmill and prefer to run indoors, set your treadmill for a quarter or half mile and time how long it takes you to complete that distance wearing the different types of shoes.

The variables you'll use are as follows:

  • Another pair athletic shoes—maybe those you wear to play soccer, softball, or basketball
  • 1 pair sandals
  • 1 pair dress shoes

If you don't have dress shoes or sandals, feel free to substitute a pair of boots or whatever other shoes you might have.

To conduct the experiment, choose a running area. This could be the track at your school, around your block, or in a vacant lot near your home. Wearing the four different pairs of shoes over four days, run the distance you've selected, recording your time with a stop watch, or having someone else time you. You should do three trials for each pair of shoes, so don't select a running area that's two miles long unless you're well trained and up for a whole lot of running.

Doing the experiment over four days, preferably at the same time each day, assures that you'll be in the same condition for each run. If you were to do all the runs in one day, you'd become tired and your times would probably increase.

Record all your observations and data on neatly designed charts. You could even make a line graph, using a different colored pen to represent each shoe type. At the end of your experiment, relate how your hypothesis measured up to your conclusion.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Science Fair Projects © 2003 by Nancy K. O'Leary and Susan Shelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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