European pupils discuss sports and chemistry in an online chat

What is the role of science in the world of sports? Michel Caillibotte, Global Brand Marketing Manager of Sportswear for Dow Fiber Solutions, visited the EUN office in Brussels on 10 December 2007 to chat about this very topic. Pupils from six schools in the European Union were online for the second Xperimania chat to ask questions based on the theme of “Sports and Science: How the Olympic Games rely on Petrochemistry”.

Schools from Finland, Sweden, Poland, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Slovenia posed questions directly to Michel Caillibotte who has 15 years of experience in the sports industry. Together, they tackled a number of issues related to sports and petrochemistry with over 25 questions in just over an hour! The chat also included discussions about the role of petrochemistry and its future; the role of textiles in sports; the role of chemistry to improve performance and safety in sports; and the materials used by sport manufacturers.

Mr. Caillibotte also answered a number of interesting questions about new technology in the production of footballs, such as those used by Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham, and research about shark skin to help in the design of swimsuits and types of fuel for F1 racing.

Regarding the Olympic Games, pupils were interested in knowing things such as what kind of new products are expected for Beijing 2008 and if clothing and shoes for athletes are going to be custom made for each participant. On this topic, pupils learned about how swimwear has developed over the years to reduce drag in the water as well as how research into take-off power and air drag has helped runners improve their times. Mr. Caillibotte then explained that the main innovations planned for the 2008 Olympic Games will focus on ways to go faster.

Some pupils were also interested in knowing if the petrochemistry industry is a threat to the environment or if it represents a way to reduce existing damage. These questions were answered briefly as this topic will be tackled in the next Xperimania chat on ‘Petrochemistry: caring for the environment?’

To register for the next chat, please contact

Chat transcript (pdf)

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