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Badger Jump Around

Sunday10/189:00 am - 9:00 pm

How do Badgers Jump Around?

When asked to jump up, we automatically crouch down before jumping up. Why? Leg height and muscle mass are factors for higher jumps, but we inherently squat down before jumping up. Through this activity, you will be exploring the physics behind jumping and why it is ideal to bend your knees while jumping vertically.

In order to jump, your center of mass needs to leave the ground at some velocity. Thus, your jump performance depends on your takeoff velocity. Your center of mass accelerates before leaving the ground; the longer your center of mass accelerates before takeoff, the higher you jump off the ground. Additionally, the distance through which you’re accelerating increases by bending your knees. That being said, you would not be able to achieve this velocity with straight legs. The more time you crouch, the higher the velocity you will achieve. However, as soon as your feet leave the ground, they lose velocity. When we crouch down and spring upwards, it strains our knee and hip joints and allows for maximizing jump height, similar to many four-legged animal jumps. This is not possible solely with your ankle joints and foot muscles, which would be the only parts propelling you upwards without bending your knees.

This activity will involve kids jumping up with and without bending their knees. How high could they jump when they did bend their knees? Why couldn’t they reach that height (or go higher) with their legs straight when jumping? Have them try out-jumping themselves with and without bending their knees, but be safe!


  • Whiteboard
  • Expo markers
  • Meter stick

Event Details:

Event Category: Chemistry & Physics
Event Features: Free Event
Event Type: Online Event
Age: 3rd-5th
Admission: Free


UW-Madison (Discovery Building)
330 N. Orchard St.
Madison, WI 53715 United States


University of Wisconsin – Madison

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