Contributed by William H. Robertson, Ph.D. aka “Dr. Skateboard”
How can you get young people interested in science and mathematics? What efforts are there to integrate the experiences of middle school students into the things they need to do and learn in school? How can action sports, like skateboarding and bicycle motocross BMX, be used to teach physics, algebra, data collection, and help students to grow in their engagement and motivation in science and mathematics?
Answers to these questions and more are addressed in Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning, a new book for middle school teachers and the students in their classes. This book combines physical science concepts in areas such as forces, motion, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and simple machines set in the context of activities that young people enjoy doing, such as riding bikes and skateboards.
Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning by William H. Robertson – Video Overview
I’ve been a skateboarder for over 35 years, and I have performed for thousands of students in elementary, middle, and high school levels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and in South America. Additionally, I have been an educator for over twenty years, currently as a professor in science education with experience teaching at the middle school and high school levels.
As an educator and a skateboarder, I knew I would have unique opportunities to instruct and to work with students and teachers. The development of Action Science is a practical example of this. Through skateboarding and education, I have learned creativity, practice, patience, discipline, and goal setting. Many of my audiences of students and parents typically don’t see the connection between skateboarding and science. They often wonder, ‘if you have a Ph.D., why do you ride a skateboard?’ The answer is because it’s fun and it’s part of who I am.
Action Science was written as a resource for teachers to integrate practical learning opportunities linked to skateboarding and BMX in order to bring physics to life. This book looks to provide solutions for dilemmas educators face in teaching physical science concepts in a relevant context for the modern learner. The main idea is to place the content in an interesting format with action sports as the focus, and this, combined with the use of constructivism, presents a fun way to energize the classroom.
The book helps the teacher to connect important science applications through the use of hands-on activities and engaging video and graphical content. Teachers need to utilize technology in teaching and learning, and this book is designed as a crossover text that integrates video and high quality images, as well as demonstrates an interactive strategy of content immersion for students. The book is not a workbook or a series of activities in and of itself; it is a professional development resource for teachers, which utilizes a constructivist approach that can be integrated into the classroom pragmatically.
The importance of an active environment for learning that integrates oral, visual, and kinesthetic strategies by the teacher allows for learning to be student-centered. In this approach, teachers become change agents, linking the relevant life experiences of the students to the content of the curriculum, and in no area is this more needed than in middle school science. The teacher must establish connections within the learning communities, and engage their students in active learning projects that require them to interact with individuals inside and outside the school. For the constructivist science teacher, learning needs to be extended into the fabric of student’s lives, not solely as a subject to be explored uniquely in a classroom.
The purpose of my book is to provide middle school teachers with a resource that will help them to be better equipped to instruct students through rich and compelling content that is motivating and engaging. Action Science is about modern students in today’s classrooms, and is designed to help teachers with relevant and practical approaches in science instruction. As with all middle school students, but even more so with marginalized students, science education needs to be transformed, and Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning is a great example of student-focused transformative resource designed to reach the modern learner. This is the way you wish you were taught and certainly the way in which you would want your children to learn.
Dr. William H. Robertson is an Associate Professor in the Teacher Education Department in the College of Education at the University of Texas, El Paso. His academic areas of expertise are in science education, curriculum development and technology integration in the K-12 levels. A long time participant and performer in skateboarding with over 35 years in the sport, Dr. Robertson has developed Dr. Skateboard’s Action Science (http://www.drskateboard.com), which addresses physical science concepts for middle school students utilizing skateboarding and bicycle motocross (BMX). He is the author of Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning.