Science Fair Project:

Does Caffeine Enhance Athletic Performance?

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Research Questions:

  • Does caffeine help people run faster?
  • Does caffeine help improve hand-eye coordination?
  • Does caffeine improve strength?

This experiment will evaluate whether caffeine helps test subjects improve athletic performance. You will evaluate if test subjects that have had caffeine are able to run faster, throw a ball farther, or make more putts.

Materials:

  • Approximately 20 test subjects
  • 10 cups of caffeinated coffee
  • 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee
  • Track
  • Baseball
  • Measuring tape
  • Distance markers
  • Golf club
  • Golf ball
  • Cup
  • Stopwatch
  • Notebook for recording and analyzing results

Experimental Procedure

  1. Recruit similar test subjects for your study. For example, select teenage males in approximately the same weight range. Ask all test subjects to complete the athletic tests in the morning on an empty stomach.
  2. Use your measuring tape to mark off increments of distance in a field so that you can easily determine how far a ball is thrown.
  3. Ask a test subject to run a 50 yard dash.
  4. Record the time it takes for the run to be completed.
  5. Ask a test subject to throw a baseball three times.
  6. Record how far the ball is thrown each time.
  7. Ask a test subject to putt a ball into a cup that is ten feet away. Repeat ten times.
  8. Record how many putts were made.
  9. Ask the test subject to drink 100 mg of caffeine (one cup of coffee).
  10. Wait 30 minutes and repeat steps 3-8.
  11. Repeat steps 3-10 with nine other test subjects.
  12. Now repeat the entire experiment with your other ten test subjects. This group will be given an equal volume of decaffeinated coffee. Do not tell either group whether they received the caffeinated drink or the non-caffeinated drink.
  13. Analyze your results. Did the group that received caffeine perform better on the second round of athletic tests when compared to the control group that did not receive caffeine? Does caffeine appear to help test subjects improve performance on a certain type of athletic challenge (eg, running, throwing or putting)? What does this say about caffeine’s influence on speed, strength or hand-eye coordination?

Terms/Concepts: caffeine and athletic performance; placebo effect

Author: Megan Doyle
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