SSAE Students Roll with STEM at Skate City
Classroom lessons came alive March 10 at Skate City when 40 Springs Studio students in grades 6-8 explored the science of roller skating. Learning started with a part-by-part review of a basic roller skate before students raced to reconstruct a complete skate in small groups. The rink became their classroom with unique hands-on activities to learn that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) can be found in everyday experiences, even roller skating.
“I love helping kids see there is a connection between the real world and what they are learning in school,” said Marie La Vere-Wright, professional STEM educator for Skate City and longtime friend of District 49. La Vere-Wright previously taught high school science in D49 and served on the board of education. “It’s great for kids to see we use science in all places.”
Skate City’s STEM curriculum aligns with state educational standards, and allows middle school students to experience the fun and familiarity of a skating rink, while learning about concepts like Newton’s Law of Motion and the Pythagorean Theorem. "One of the best ways to engage students is to let the rigor from the classroom take on relevance in the world around them,” shared Stephanie Danford, math teacher at Springs Studio.
The final activity demonstrated the mathematical concept of probability to students. “You have to trust the person pushing behind you,” explained Malaina Jackson, SSAE eighth-grader. Malaina rode a scooter on her stomach, pushed by a teammate who gripped her ankles. The object of the assignment: Working as a team, gather as many colored balls as possible in a life-sized version of the classic Hungry, Hungry Hippos children’s game. Learners gathered in the middle of the rink to reinforce science and math ideas, and to provide a lesson in teamwork. Teams like Malaina’s scurried to meet their objective, and then put math skills to work creating graphs to represent their results.
“Skate City STEM lessons offer a great opportunity for students to apply their learning, while spending time with friends,” said Danford. At the conclusion of an hour-long science presentation, teachers turned students loose to spend the rest of the morning enjoying a private skating party.