Newton – Republic goalkeeper – and museum teach children physics

Sacramento Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton may share a last name with influential scientist Isaac Newton, but he readily admits he doesn’t have the same brain for physics.

Newton, who recently wrapped up his first season with the Sacramento soccer team, made an appearance Saturday at the Powerhouse Science Center on Auburn Boulevard, an all-ages museum designed to teach children science with interactive exhibits. His task this time wasn’t to block goals, but to explain basic physics principles using a soccer ball.

Led by the museum’s science educator Bernta Bechler, the afternoon presentation detailed concepts such as inertia, mass, acceleration and reaction for about a dozen children. After explaining something in plain terms, such as the way mass and acceleration interact to create force, Bechler would ask Newton to demonstrate by manipulating the soccer ball on different surfaces or with different amounts of strength.

“Physics has a lot to do with goalkeeping, and soccer in general,” Newton said. “Just naturally, playing goalkeeper so much, you can read how the person is approaching the ball, their body shape, where their chest is, whether the ball is going high or low. Once it comes off their foot, you can pick up quickly the way they hit it, the speed … I wish I knew a little more physics before this year’s penalty shootouts.”

Before and after the presentation, Newton gave one-on-one goal shooting and goal defending lessons to eager participants. Bobby Rodriguez of Sacramento said he took son Ashton Perez, 8, for a visit to the museum after a youth league soccer game and was thrilled to see the Republic FC player on campus.

“This is awesome,” Rodriguez said. “He’s already kicking harder than he’s ever kicked.”

The Newton appearance was part of the museum’s “Science in Motion” exhibit – an indoor installment that will be on display until Dec. 31. After that, staff members will launch “Eat well, Play Well,” an exhibit funded partially by the Sacramento Republic FC that will teach children how to fuel their bodies for physical activity.

“I’m hoping that kids get that physics isn’t scary – it’s around them everywhere, science is around them everywhere. You can pick up a ball and play with it and you’re doing science and having fun at the same time,” Bechler said. “Maybe if they understand a little bit about the physics and the Newton’s law demonstrating why a ball does what it does, they’ll be better soccer players, and maybe they’ll invent some cool stuff, too, using the same principles.”

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola

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