STEM through Sport
Sensi, Zhang Sah Martial Arts
Executive Director, Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative
Many Philadelphia youth face logistical and financial barriers that keep them from participating in enriching activities such as sports and STEM. Across the city there are initiatives to provide access to participation in sports and even fewer opportunities for STEM activities. While sports offer well-documented benefits, athletics can also be time consuming, costly, and the main focus of a student's extracurricular activity. There is wide cultural, community and family support for athletics, while STEM can be a harder sell. Many students view sports as fun, exciting and important, but perceive STEM as academic and too much like school.
To develop engaging STEM activities based in sport and to remove financial and logistical barriers. We know that STEM is everywhere, and we can reach and teach youth through their favorite sports. The city of Philadelphia is committed to increasing access to sport, recognizing that athletics offer an informal classroom for problem solving. Anyone watching professional sports today can see that the field is data driven, employing ever more sophisticated technology to capture that data. Sports equipment and protective gear undergo constant re-engineering to increase performance and safety.
Careers in athletic fitness and training, nutrition sciences, sports management, and sports medicine are also on the rise. The STEM Through Sport work group endeavors to seamlessly integrate STEM education into the sports kids are playing in order to broaden and deepen the education that athletics provides by making explicit the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that already reside within the world of sports. Ultimately, the STEM Through Sport work group recognizes that athletics are a relevant and interesting way to reach the target population who may otherwise fall through the enrichment gap.