My students are "at risk kids" attending a Title I, middle school in California. They are great kids. My students come from a low, socioeconomic background but they have dreams of attending college. Difficult times in life translate to difficult times at school. Middle school isn't anyone's best time of their lives but there is hope.
A skateboard club at lunchtime, where students can feel included, might be the only reason these kids come to school.
I noticed these kids always playing with little skateboards with their fingers. I had an idea and Skateboard Club was born. I build ramps with them and teach them engineering skills. Skateboards are filled with physical science concepts. When they're at skateboard club, I can talk to them about life choices that might keep these kids out of trouble.
I started a skateboard club at my middle school. I remember being a skater when I was in middle school. I loved it with all the passion of a kid discovering something for the first time. Now, I have the opportunity as a science teacher to reach out to the skateboarding students at my school. I have created a club to embrace their culture while teaching Next Generation Science Standards in physical science, engineering, and design.
Skateboarding is not a crime.
Often, students will ask their teacher, "What is the point of this?" or "Why are we doing this anyway?" They want to know exactly how the material they're learning in class will apply to their everyday lives because, at times, it seems disconnected from what they do. Physical science concepts are often taught quite traditionally in school, isolated from the real world. This is what disconnects the tools and the content from the students' experiences. There is a real need for educators to explore and connect content in an authentic and relatable context for students.
So how can this be of practical use for the educator? Inherently, the teacher has to know the students and recognize their interests. That is the purpose of action science -to put concepts in physical science into the realm of youth culture and in effect, to make science approachable, relatable, and (possibly) even cool to learn. I want to teach my students how to make a ramp that they can then use during skateboard club and the materials such as a glue gun, plywood, craft sticks and dowel rods will help me do this.
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