The Science of Curling

By Alexa, age 12

Curling-300x150If you watched the Olympics, you probably saw a bit of curling.

If you’ve ever played shuffleboard, curling is kinda like that. There are two teams each with four players. They take turns sliding or “throwing” eight stones across the ice, each player “throws”  two. Not only can you curl the stones, but you are also given a broom to brush in front of it.

Since the players are on ice, there isn’t much friction. This allows the rocks to slide easily. This is where the brushes come in. Brushing the ice heats it up a little, which lessens the friction, allowing the rocks to slide even more. Brushing also removes dirt and clears the path for the rocks.

Before the game, water is sprayed onto the ice that freezes into droplets called “pebbles”. The stones “ride” on the pebbles, which also reduces friction. The temperature also has to be kept at a certain level. The ice is always -5°C, or 23˚F with low humidity.

The stones are made of a specific granite only from Ailsa Craig in Ireland. The rocks are really heavy and weigh about 42 pounds so no one actually throws the stones! One of the reasons that they only come from Ailsa Craig is that the granite there is the best quality. They also have the best running edge for modern ice. You can learn more about the rocks used to make the curling stones.

If this article has inspired you to go curling, then find a rink near you.

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