Learning vital skills through STEM and sports
From learning new skills to being part of a team to persevering on the path to success, the intersection between STEM and sports is surprisingly vast—and a valuable tool in empowering students to achieve more in all aspects of their lives.
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 Coco Gauff, 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.
As a part of an ongoing initiative to bring more STEM opportunities to the Atlanta area, Microsoft is partnering with the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks to show the next generation how technology and sports can intertwine. Kids from local neighborhoods got a chance to attend an immersive Atlanta Hawks Basketball STEM Camp where they experienced technology in unexpected and hands-on ways.
At the camp, the kids created a Microbit activity tracker and were given a challenge to digitally collect and organize statistics from a free throw competition. They were also treated to a surprise meet-and-greet with Atlanta Hawks player Onyeka Okongwu. The star power forward not only taught them how to improve their hoops game but spoke to them about how he uses STEM-related skills both on and off the court. “Being good at sports and other physical activities is good, but knowledge is key, knowledge is power,” Okongwu told the attendees.
The kids left the Atlanta Hawks Basketball STEM Camp with a greater knowledge of how they can combine their love of STEM and basketball to achieve more in their everyday lives.
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.
Coco and Microsoft teamed up to help refresh the main computer lab and build two additional labs with the donation of new devices—at Palm Beach County’s Achievement Centers for Children and Families (ACCF)—ensuring that their students will have updated technology available to pursue their dreams.
Coco used Microsoft Teams to surprise the kids from ACCF with a special virtual event. During the event, Coco helped students complete the new Space Jam: A New Legacy coding workshop, where they learned about game design. The kids were also able to ask Coco questions to learn more about the rising star from their community, including how she became a professional tennis player and what her favorite subject is in school.
“Maybe this can give a kid the opportunity to find their own passions,” Coco said before offering advice to the students. “Make your dreams as big as possible, because you never know how far they will go.”
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.