How can sports empower students to learn STEM skills? The answer lies in combining the allure of pro sports with community initiatives and innovative activities that provide valuable tools for success.
Tapping into partnerships with athletes and organizations—like Atlanta Hawks, BWT Alpine F1® Team, Atlanta Track Club, and Phoenix Mercury—Microsoft is creating opportunities that help both kids and adults experience technology in exciting new ways.
Microsoft has partnered with the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks to bring STEM opportunities to the Atlanta area. This ongoing initiative introduces the benefits of combining tech and sports to local kids. Each year, they’ll have the chance to attend an immersive Atlanta Hawks Basketball STEM Camp to experience tech in new and exciting ways.
At the 2022 camp, kids got a surprise meet-and-greet with Atlanta Hawks player Onyeka Okongwu. The star power forward taught them how to improve their hoops game and shared how he uses STEM-related skills on and off the court. Camp attendees also created a Microbit activity tracker, which enabled them to digitally collect and organize statistics from a free throw competition.
In addition to the camps, the Coded Dunk Challenge was launched by Microsoft and the Atlanta Hawks to encourage students to code a dunk for Harry the Hawk on Microsoft MakeCode Arcade. Three finalists were selected to attend a Hawks game in March 2023 to watch their coded dunks on the centerhung. Harry the Hawk performed the winner’s dunk live on court, delighting the over 18,000 fans in attendance.
Kids who participate in Hawks and Microsoft STEM programming are learning how their love of STEM and basketball can help them achieve more.
BWT Alpine F1® Team
Microsoft collaborated with BWT Alpine F1 Team and Handy, a local non-profit in Broward County, Florida, to create a replica F1 race experience ahead of their Inaugural race in Miami. Handy meets the needs of children in foster and relative or nonrelative care within the child dependency system.
With the help of Fair Chance Learning, Handy students received kits that they could pair with Microsoft technology to program and race robotic cars. Learning coding skills to make the cars move around the track opened an inspirational window about the role of BWT Alpine F1 Team engineers during race weekends. The goal was to draw a connection between a sport the kids are passionate about with the values of STEM learning, and even the possibility of a future career in STEM. The experience culminated with the Handy students getting to see the engineers and drivers in action at the Inaugural race
Atlanta Track Club
As Microsoft develops the city of Atlanta as a destination for tech, it’s also working to put resources back into the community that empower kids and build the technology infrastructure. Atlanta Track Club has partnered with Microsoft to bring both fitness and tech to kids through programs like the Midweek Mile and Dash—a free running event that involved running 50 meters, hanging out with elite athletes, and diving into technology that’s a part of their lives on and off the track.
During the Midweek Mile and Dash, young athletes got hands-on experience building and playing with technology. Before the race, they learned STEM skills that enabled them to make a pedometer that would count their steps. This was an opportunity to learn how technology and running are intertwined, and how they have the power to encourage fitness in their own families, as well.
The kids also used Microsoft Make:Code, a free online learn-to-code game platform, that taught them how to code their own Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race-themed arcade game, Peach Racer. They got to see how the game came to life from beginning to end and play with their creation.
The Phoenix Mercury hosted a camp in partnership with Microsoft providing kids with a workshop session where they could code their own arcade-style basketball game using Microsoft Make:Code. The workshops gave them an opportunity to build relationships and community, while sharpening both their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), coding, and basketball skills.
Microsoft and Phoenix Mercury are committed to empowering the next generation of women to take on tech with clinics offering girls in the Phoenix community a unique perspective on STEM skills through the lens of their favorite sport.
With topics like dunking on the moon, making the perfect shot with a robot, designing the perfect shoe, and activities like binary coding and building a catapult, the programs are designed to connect STEM to basketball and show participants that STEM exists everywhere in sports. To bring the concept to life, they invited local speakers and partners like the Arizona Science Center, who offered hands-on demonstrations and introductions to women working in STEM.
Microsoft is committed to empowering kids in the community and getting them excited about STEM by helping them learn tech skills in connection with the sports they’re passionate about. The hope is that tools will provide students of all ages with the opportunity to grow and excel in their education—and potentially pursue careers in STEM in the future.