- School administrators in the Houston area recently learned ways to teach STEM concepts to students using sports scenarios, such as teaching terminal velocity and gravity by using a vertical wind tunnel to keep students afloat at 150-mph, an experience that was hosted by an indoor skydiving facility, District Administration reports.
- Teachers can encourage an interest in STEM education by linking physical activities such as these to STEM standards.
- Trigonometry concepts can be connected to baseball, and biking can teach physics concepts such as force and aerodynamics.
The application of STEM education to sports may seem to be a stretch in some ways, but sports and science actually make a good match. Sports are full of statistical analysis, which involves math, and physics involves the movement of both bodies and objects. The effects of sports on the human body and the engineering involved in the creation of sports equipment are also science concepts. For many students, especially boys, sports seems to be a natural way to explore these STEM concepts.
The idea of pairing sports and STEM together is not new. In 2013, Time Warner Cable announced a "STEM in Sports" campaign in response to calls for more emphasis on STEM education and some NFL players are also now participating in events promoting STEM. A company called STEM Sports even develops and provides “turnkey curricula for 3rd through 8th grade students using a sport as the strategic vehicle to drive STEM-based learning in classrooms, after-school programs, and camp settings.”
However, adding another S to STEM may be premature. This concept has been tried with STEAM promotions and elicited a STEM vs. STEAM controversy. With so much grant funding now tied to STEM, polluting the definition may be asking for trouble. However, there is still every reason to use the arts and sports as vehicles to connect students to STEM education. One idea may be to create a STEM Sports day at the school and involve local colleges, sports organizations and vendors to participate. This could elevate the old “field day” event to a whole new level and provide some well-needed physical activity for students as well.