Sports Challenge was one of the Institute’s most popular exhibits, having welcomed millions of visitors since it originally opened 15 years ago. The 3,600-square-foot space is currently being completely transformed to become SportsZone, an entirely new exhibit that explores how sport connects the science of the human body, laws of motion, and technical innovation. Below, watch a short video of Athletes in Action, the new exhibit’s iconic experience.

Caption: Media producers superimpose Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Jordan Matthews into the football stadium background to complete Jordan’s setting for the virtual race.

After extensive prototyping and testing, the Institute’s renowned Exhibit Design Team has created a range of interactives that are now ready for fabrication. The new exhibit will feature a centerpiece called Athletes in Action, where you can race virtual competitors along a projected surface. See how you compare to Paralympic medalist Richard Brown, or the Phillies’ very own Phanatic. The familiar pitching challenge will come back better than ever, teaching the secrets to throwing the perfect curve ball. Explore the dynamics of splash, dropping different objects into a tank to see how shape, angle, and stability affect entry, just as they do when you enter the pool. Test bicycles with alternative gear designs on a hilly course, examining efficiency and comparing energy output. Learn how much protection a football helmet actually provides, how shaped skis provide greater control on a curved slope, and analyze the varying designs of shoes for track and field events. You’re going to have a ball in SportsZone!

Explore the galleries and links below to learn more about new experiences you will enjoy in SportsZone, and to meet the generous donors who made this exhibit possible. Visit this page frequently to see construction progress as the exhibit is completed.

Things to Do and See in SportsZone

  • Athletes in Action

    This iconic experience, a 40-foot screen and track where visitors will be able to race a variety of well-known athletes, was filmed in Dallas Texas using a large warehouse to house the blue screen, elaborate lighting, and multiple cameras set up to capture the action.

  • Athletes in Action

    Paralympic medalist Richard Browne shows his quick reaction time at the starting line during filming in Dallas, Texas.

  • Helmet Test

    The fabricator builds a prototype for the Institute’s Exhibit Team’s review to confirm the intensity of the hit given by the helmet tester. The crash test dummy was not harmed.

  • Shoe Design Display

    Custom cabinetry is underway for the shoe design display, including a shoe mounting method using a mirror to allow visitors to see the unique design of each shoe’s soles and spikes.

  • Ski Shape

    Exhibit team members review a prototype of the ski ramp and “skiers” used to demonstrate how athletes use shaped skis to control their direction when making turns.

  • Bike Efficiency

    Two team members test a prototype of the bicycle race interactive, which compares the efficiency of a high-gear versus a low-gear bike. In the final exhibit, a media screen will show the bikes as visitors attempt to pedal them up and down a hill.

  • Jump Momentum

    The fabricator engineers a mechanism that makes a graphic light up when visitors jump and swat a basketball. In the exhibit, the graphic will identify the height the visitor was able to reach.

  • Dominant Side

    Exhibit team members grip this prototype with both hands to determine if they have a dominant hand, which is useful information for athletes. The designers are also reviewing the user interface—it needs to be rugged to stand up to lots of visitors when it’s installed on the museum floor.