Kits May Help Hits, Too

These soccer experiments are drawn from a series of sports-science kits from ScienceMedia Inc., founded by Joan Roth, a former math professor.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she started the firm in 1994 as a way to help sustain children's interest in science and provide financial help to MIT's Council on Primary and Secondary Education. The council aims to improve science education in K-12 classes nationwide. MIT professors serve as advisers for the sports-science projects.

Ms. Roth has four kits so far, for baseball, football, and basketball, besides soccer. She aims to develop 20.

For children, she says, the soccer kit is the No. 1 seller. For women, it's basketball. "A lot of women liked basketball" growing up, "but no one taught them how to put a spin on the ball when they shoot," for instance.

Some of the heaviest mail, she adds, has come in response to the baseball kit - especially from mothers whose daughters learned where to find the "sweet spot" on a bat for hitting the farthest. "Girls were gaining self-esteem," she says. "Once they were taught how to find the sweet spot intellectually, they were able to get on base."

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