GUEST BLOGGER SUZANNE SLADE
Who doesn’t love the Harlem Globetrotters?
With their incredible ball-handling skills, hilarious tricks, and infectious smiles, your students will have a blast learning about this iconic basketball team (plus the science behind basketball and more!)
Activity 1: Harlem Globetrotters – peacemakers & groundbreakers
Read Swish! The slam-dunking, alley-ooping, high-flying Harlem Globetrotters.
Discuss the following questions with students:
- What did you learn about the Globetrotter team that surprised you?
- Why did players name their team the Harlem Globetrotters?
- How did team members help foster peace with leaders in other countries?
- What changed when professional basketball teams invited a few Globetrotters to play with them?
Activity 2: Basketball, STEM, and language arts
Watch the Harlem Globetrotters in One Take video. (It’s breathtaking!)
Ask: Did you know science helps the Globetrotters play basketball and perform incredible their tricks?
Discuss these STEM concepts and questions with students:
Gravity is an invisible force which pulls objects down toward the ground.
- How does gravity affect a basketball as it soars through the air toward a net?
- How does gravity help a player dribble the ball?
Friction is a force that acts between two objects in contact with each other.
- Why does a basketball player need friction to jump and make a slam dunk? (Think about how the bottom of your sneaker feels. Is it slick or sticky? Why?)
- How does friction help a player make a free throw shot? (Is the surface of a basketball smooth or a little rough? Why?)
Pressure is a force acting over a certain area.
- Does a flat, squishy basketball bounce well?
- Why do you think pumping air inside a basketball helps it bounce? (Pumping air in a basketball creates air pressure inside. Air is made of many tiny molecules. Those molecules move around inside the ball and bump into each other. When a ball hits the floor, moving air molecules push on the side of the ball that touches the floor and makes it bounce.)
Next, students can take one Globetrotters’ trick and explain the science behind in a presentation to the class.
Activity 3: Basketball fun with the Harlem Globetrotters!
Harlem Globetrotter Demonstration Video – Learn how to spin a ball on one finger!
Ask: Is it easy or hard to spin a basketball on your finger? How does gravity affect the ball? Why does spinning the ball faster help it stay on your finger? (centrifugal force)
Swish! Book Trailer – Watch fascinating footage of early Globetrotter players.
Ask: Why do you think the early Harlem Globetrotters decided to do ball handling tricks during games? What do you like best about the Globetrotter team?
Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of over 140 children’s books. She enjoys writing about heroes from her hometown of Chicago such as the Globetrotters. Other recent titles include EXQUISITE: THE POETRY AND LIFE OF GWENDOLYN BROOKS, A COMPUTER CALLED KATHERINE: HOW KATHERINE JOHNSON HELPED PUT AMERICA ON THE MOON (NSTA Best STEM Book) and COUNTDOWN: 2979 DAYS TO THE MOON (NSTA Best STEM Book). Releasing March15, 2021: JUNE ALMEIDA, VIRUS DETECTIVE! THE WOMAN WHO DISCOVERED THE FIRST HUMAN CORONAVIRUS. Website: suzanneslade.com. Twitter: @AuthorSSlade