STEM Education through Sport



DSC00010-CropThe UA Women’s Basketball team collaborated with Director Victor Pinheiro and Assistant Lecturer Melissa Dreisbach of the School of Sport Science and Wellness, as well as Akron Global Polymer Academy (AGPA) Content Specialist John Fellenstein from the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, to offer 5th-8th grade girls the opportunity to learn STEM Education through Basketball. The girls participated in basketball drills with members of the UA Women’s Basketball team that included a foul shot station where the girls were videotaped for their form. President Wilson participated with the students in the shooting drills and knockout game, encouraging and motivating them. The videos were emailed to them along with a criteria sheet and a reflection sheet for self-evaluation. The criteria sheet was used to help the girls compare their form to the critical elements of the skill and the biomechanics of the correct foul shooting form.

DSC00022-CropThe students also attended a session where they learned about some of the physical properties of athletic equipment; specifically, the properties of elasticity and rebound demonstrated by polymeric materials. Polymers make up the majority of a basketball shoe, and are also responsible for the ability of a basketball to hold air and, as a result, to bounce. The girls compared the rebound of two different formulations of AGPA Poly Putty, recording the bounce of the putty ball when dropped from a given height.

The students then attended a session on angles of release and biomechanics which had them comparing different techniques of throwing badminton birdies and foam balls. Indirectly, through these activities they discovered what angle of release is needed to shoot a basketball effectively and why it’s important to use the whole body to assist in generating force when doing a skill such as dribbling, jumping and shooting. In addition to these activities, the girls attended the women’s basketball game against Kent State University. During the game, they kept statistical information on the players and constructed a “Player Trading Card” that had them computing the data into the players’ free throw and field goal percentages. The girls enjoyed the activities and learned how much science was involved in a sport.