By Debby Venable
Oklahoma STEM Ambassador
Between the end of the NBA season and before the start of the NFL season what is a sports nut like me supposed to do?!?!? I have been an avid sports fan since I was 8, when my grandfather put me on his knee, drew out a baseball scorecard, and taught me how to keep score when the likes of Dizzy Dean, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and slew of other legendary men played baseball. One sport led to another and voila…..one female sports nut. I know that the whole state of Oklahoma was possessed with Thunder Fever and it was a great season. We all get our sports fix in one way or the other and the Sooners and Cowboys help to provide that interstate rivalry that keeps the “juices” flowing for about 4 months. All that being said….what do I do know till preseason football? How about the Summer Olympics in London? Sounds like a great couple of weeks for a sports junkie like me. Got me to thinking though, how about the science of the Olympics? STEM in the summer Olympics? You betcha and I want to share a few ways to get your kids engrossed in the competition and in STEM. Think about it…math, measurements, angles, times, speed, physics, and every scienctific lingo you can think of. The Olympics is a hot bed of all facets of STEM. Encourage your students to watch and really observe how science is at work in the competitions and the events. Have them look at the bicycle races on the slanted track….what keeps them up high on the track without falling off? Could it be centrifugal force or what??? Have the students dig deep to look for science at work.
I have put together some Olympic events that can easily be put together at your school or afterschool program. During the last Olympics, I had my students pick a country, study it, design their own flag, and decide which events that they wanted to enter as a country. Good way to include technology, which is an intergal part of our STEM. Get them to really take ownership in this event and follow the events on television. I even allowed them to march during an opening ceremony. My parents loved it and were there for lots of the events cheering them on.
So you can see how current events can sometimes dictate the tone of your program. It does not have to be the exact events that are shown on television, be creative and let the students come up with creative events. You will be surprised!
Now that you are really excited about the Olympics and the students will be watching anyway, use it as a creative teaching tool for STEM. You will be ready to give every child a gold medal for creativity and participation.