Sneaker Science

Sneakers and athletic shoes are a multi-billion dollar industry. Students and adults wear sneakers for comfort, performance and style. Which is most important to you? Which is the biggest part of the design of your sneakers? Here are a few properties of sneaker outsoles (the bottom surface of the shoe). Read about them and then look at your shoes and those of your classmates.

Flex cuts - deep cut lines which let the shoe flex or bend easily.

Dots and Waves - let the shoe flex or bend easily.

Herringbone Pattern - gives grip or traction on different kinds of surfaces.

Low Profile Treads - give some traction but are comfortable.

Deep Cut Treads - give best traction and slip resistance, used for many sports.

Pods - small square sections of the sole which let the sole react to uneven surfaces.

Liquid Window - gives good cushioning in fast direction changing and running.

Attractive Colors - fashion.

Attractive Tread Design and Graphics - fashion.

Popular Brand Name - fashion.

Circles - let sneaker turn easily and quickly.

Deep, Widely Spaced Lugs - traction on soil, loose pebbles and damp surfaces.

Multi Tread Patterns - good grip on different surfaces.

Treads Face Different Directions - good grip in several directions.

Sticky, Aerated Rubber - very good grip but wear down fast.

Widened Sole - better stability.

Notches in Edge of Sole - give stability.

Thick Sole - for rugged outdoor use.

Collect sneaker sole prints on paper from your class by having students step on sheets of paper. What seems to be the most important to the sneaker wearers in your class, comfort, performance or style?

The Sneaker Freaker website has even more about sneakers including a museum of these popular shoes.

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