Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ethan. Ethan Wonders, “Why are bowling shoes so slippery?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ethan!

Do you like to go bowling? We sure do! We get so excited at the idea of bowling that it’s like we’re walking on pins and needles! OK…so that was a bad joke, but we couldn’t help ourselves.

Bowling is a fun sport the whole family can enjoy. There’s nothing quite like heading to your local bowling alley for the night. Many people love watching the pins scatter after a well-aimed throw. Others sigh in despair after each gutter ball! 

There are so many fun things related to going bowling. Many kids love picking out the perfect ball. Others enjoy practicing their addition skills by keeping score. People even combine their knowledge of geometry and physics to toss the ball just right.

But we’re forgetting something else super fun, aren’t we? If you’ve ever been to a bowling alley, you know what we’re talking about: bowling shoes! Bowling alleys don’t allow you to wear just any old shoes on their super-slick lanes.

Bowling alleys offer their very own bowling shoes for rental as soon as you walk in the door. Before you bowl, you’re asked for your shoe size. Then, you’re issued a pair of bowling shoes to use during your games.

Although they’re probably not the most attractive shoes you’ve ever worn, bowling shoes do serve an important purpose. Usually made of a combination of leather and rubber, bowling shoes feature slippery soles.

The slippery surface of bowling shoes serves an important purpose. It lets you slide easily along the polished wood floor of the bowling lanes. As you approach the lane to release the ball toward the pins, it’s important to be able to move very smoothly. That makes your throw as controlled as possible.

The heels of bowling shoes are usually made of rubber. This makes it easy to break your slide as soon as you release the ball. People who bowl often might even have their own custom bowling shoes. They can have rubber soles on their non-sliding foot and a slippery sole on their sliding foot.

Renting shoes to bowlers also allows bowling alleys to keep their wooden lane surfaces in tip-top shape. It would be much harder to keep lanes in good condition if all sorts of different shoes were worn. They could track in dirt, rocks, and other items that might scratch the delicate flooring.

No one knows for sure when bowling shoes were invented. Some historians believe a leather bowling shoe may have been introduced in the United States as early as 1888.

Bowling can be so much fun! Do you have your own bowling shoes, or do you rent them? Many people think they look funny, but these unique shoes are an important part of the game.

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

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