Making STEM Education Fun: The Physics of Sports

Introductory, college-level physics is a mainstay course offering found at most colleges and universities. Hence, these courses are often populated with students across various majors. Some students revel in the act of performing physics calculations, while others find themselves to be apprehensive when enrolling in a physics course. The thought of classical mechanics and Newtonian physics may scare away students from taking such a course.STEM education made fun with the Physics of Sports at Wheelock College However, students at Wheelock College are lining up to take a physics course that explores physics through a non-traditional lens. Students of all majors are studying physics as they apply to sports. The Physics of Sports is a newly-developed course which allows students to study Newtonian mechanics and classical physics in a manner which is much more appealing to students in virtually all majors.

The increased attention being placed on STEM education curriculum could have made it hard to design a course that would get students excited about physics. This laboratory-based inquiry course is a hands-on approach for students to apply physics to their favorite sports, which may help their understanding of physics and turn the experience into a meaningful and memorable encounter.

STEM education for the K-12 classroom has never been more important. Specifically true to the elementary classroom, excellent STEM education begins with elementary teachers who are confident in their understanding of science as well as their ability to teach these concepts to children. The preparation of elementary teachers who can learn physics and become excited about the subject will increase the potential for quality STEM teaching when they enter their own classroom.

Clearly, exploring and understanding how the universe operates applies far beyond the classroom. This learning experience attempts to enlighten students about the laws of nature as part of a high-quality, well-rounded liberal arts education. Sports are a very large part of Boston’s history, community and culture. Just as we can use carts and pulleys to explore mechanics, so, too, can we use the performance of a football and the New England Patriots to witness physics in action!

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