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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.

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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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