What could be cooler to a kid than learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) on a mild December day outdoors at Levi’s Stadium instead of at school?
As part of the San Francisco 49ers Foundation’s focus on exciting kids about STEM careers, more than 400 “future STEM leaders” spent a day experiencing active learning at football’s mecca right here in Santa Clara. The inaugural Chevron STEM Bowl on December 9, presented by the 49ers Foundation and KPIX 5 TV, was timed to be part of the lead up to Super Bowl 50.
Al Guido, 49ers COO, welcomed the fourth- through eighth-grade students from the Indigo Program, Henry Ford School, Paolo Verde and Vinci Park Elementary Schools, and Fischer and Cabrillo Middle Schools to Levi’s Stadium.
“…We look forward to showcasing the power and fun of STEM today and to share that with the world as we look ahead to hosting Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium on February 7,” said Guido.
“You’ll be on the same field where the most watched event in the world will be watched,” said Steve Woodhead, manager of Global Social Investment at Chevron.
Then the students embarked on their day of hands-on learning, moving from location to location for 30-minute activities relating STEM skills to football and the stadium. Activity stations focused on Solar Energy, Wireless Technology, LEED Design, Football Forces, Stadium Design, Career Connections, Football Math, and Game Day Motion.
Fischer Middle School students were on the sidelines of the playing field, participating in adapted football drills such as a 20-yard dash, then logging their results to create their own STEM Bowl statistics.
“I want my students to experience outside the classroom environment. They learn more and retain the information. Some of the students are very into sports, and this is an awesome sports facility,” said Fischer teacher Vivian Nguyen.
Seventh- and eighth-grade students from Santa Clara’s Cabrillo Middle School were mentors for the day, assisting the 49ers learning experience leaders. One hundred twenty Cabrillo students now participate in the 49ers STEM Leadership Institute launched at Cabrillo in July of 2014 to give high-achieving students the opportunity to prepare for STEM careers.
Launched cooperatively by the San Francisco 49ers (who made a $1 million grant), Chevron, Silicon Valley Education Foundation and the Santa Clara Unified School District, this six-year program will expand into Santa Clara High School in fall 2016. It will expose the class of 2020 to a rigorous curriculum of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, preparing them for top-tier universities (www.cabrillo-scusd-ca.schoolloop.com/49ersSTEM).
“I’m super excited. This is all going to really help my future. We’re learning a lot of cool things that most kids don’t,” said Cabrillo eighth grader Emily Uranga. “We get to use 3D printers and laser cutters and vinyl cutters. I’ve helped to build a 3D animal–an elephant–with a laser cutter.”
Joanne Pasternack, vice president and executive director of 49ers community relations and the 49ers Foundation, explained that in conjunction with the opening of Levi’s Stadium in 2014, the 49ers had wanted to do something for the community in alignment with the spirit of Silicon Valley. Noting a disparity between educational opportunities to prepare students for STEM careers and the number of workers needed, the 49ers focused on STEM education.
How did students feel about the inaugural STEM Bowl at Levi’s Stadium?
“Awesome! Exciting! Spectacular!” exclaimed the Fischer Middle School future STEM leaders.