Room temperature doesn't have much place in any hockey game. When it comes to the puck especially, it has to be as cold as the ice for each and every game. In fact, it is frozen for 10 days prior to the day of the game. Bernie Parent and Bob Kelly, Stanley Cup winning Flyers and current Flyers' Hockey Ambassadors, mixed science and hockey Wednesday at The Franklin Institute.
With the help of a Science Interpreter who works at The Franklin Institute, a group of students from Science Leadership Academy, the partnership high school with TFI, saw just how a puck is frozen. A small bouncy ball was put into a container of liquid nitrogen. The Hound dropped the room temperature ball while Bernie dropped the frozen one. A clear difference, the frozen one hit the ground with a thud. Next we saw it done with an actual puck. Kelly and Parent showed how the molecules in the puck move closer together as they cool down, decreasing the bounce. Both pointed out the puck must be frozen so that it slides across the ice easily and does not bounce off the boards with every shot. If not, the room temperature puck would melt a small bit of the ice creating some friction.
Parent and Kelly talked to us about work they do with charities and youth across the country. Kelly told me about his work at youth hockey camps. Both great ambassadors of the Flyers, I loved meeting them. Parent advised us to keep laughing through life. A few asked questions -- Parent shared my love of the Three Stooges, which I still watch with my dad. Along with that he had us guess how thick we thought the ice was. I said a foot. It's about three-quarters of an inch thick. Who knew?
While I am watching Thursday night's season opener against the Bruins in Boston on TV, I'll be wearing my new t-shirt and pointing to Parent's and Kelly's signature as I tell anyone within five feet of my living room in Roxborough that the puck they see has been frozen for 10 days.
Jennifer Wright is a high school student at Science Leadership Academy and is an intern at The Inquirer.