Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Chana from millwakee. Chana Wonders, “How are football helmets made?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Chana!

Do you have a favorite sport? Many of our Wonder friends enjoy soccer. Maybe you prefer softball or gymnastics. Or perhaps your sport of choice is that good old American favorite . . . football!

If you’ve ever played football, you know it requires quite a bit of gear. From cleats and socks to jerseys and mouthguards, the uniforms often feature the team name or mascot. Of course, we can’t forget one of the most important pieces of football gear: the helmet.

Why are football helmets important? They help keep athletes safe in this full-contact sport. Helmets are the first line of defense against concussions and other head and brain injuries. However, they haven’t always been as protective as they are today.

The first football helmets were used in 1915. These were made of leather and had no face masks. They were flat on top and primarily protected players’ ears. However, they also made it difficult to hear on the field. 

Of course, helmets have changed quite a bit since then. Plastic helmets were introduced in 1939. Soon, chin straps and face masks were added. Before long, manufacturers started drilling ear holes in helmets to improve hearing on the field. Today, they also include a great deal of padding.

How are modern football helmets made? Most are mass-produced in factories. First, hard plastic is shaped to form the outer shell and a drill is used to add holes. Then, air liners are added to the helmet. These help absorb the impact of blows to protect the skull. Next, foam liners and various pads are added for more protection.

The next step is attaching plastic or metal face masks to the front of the helmets. After chin straps are added, the helmets are ready to be painted. Finally, teams add their decals to the helmets once they’re received.

Have you ever bought a new football helmet? If so, you know how important it is for them to fit just right. Helmets should feel snug with no space between the padding and the athlete’s head. This helps provide maximum protection during play.

Football helmets have been in the spotlight recently due to the sport’s connection to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). This condition is caused by constant blows to the head and repeated concussions. People with CTE can experience memory loss, changes in mood, confusion, and difficulty thinking. 

CTE can also cause slurred speech. Advanced stages of the condition may include symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease. Well-made helmets that fit snugly can help protect football players from injuries that may lead to CTE. However, no helmet completely prevents the condition.

Have you ever played football? Maybe you prefer a different sport. Gear and uniforms can certainly vary across athletics! What other important sports safety equipment can you think of?

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6 CCRA.R.10 CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.W.2,CCRA.SL.4 NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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