Nigel Smart with students from Mawson Lakes School who will take part in the STEMfooty program

Nigel Smart with students from Mawson Lakes School who will take part in the STEMfooty program

Australian Rules football and the Adelaide Crows will be at the forefront of an innovative new education program designed to encourage more school students to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Delivered by the Crows in partnership with Data to Decisions CRC and the University of South Australia, the STEMfooty program is designed to address the significant growth in STEM-related jobs and the continued decline in student engagement – both at school and university level – in STEM subjects.

STEMfooty is based on a program developed in America by Professor Ricardo Valerdi from Science of Sport which has delivered sport linked STEM training to more than 100,000 students and 1,000 teachers by partnering with Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association teams.

The program will allow students to explore STEM concepts through both experiential and traditional academic approaches, providing links to real world and broadly appealing applications. It will put South Australia at the forefront of delivering pioneering STEM education.

Adelaide Crows Chief Operating Officer Nigel Smart said the Club was pleased to help shape attitudes towards STEM as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting children in the community.

“Our successful community and Indigenous programs have long demonstrated that Australian Rules football is a great hook to engage kids on a whole range of subjects,” Smart said.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this innovative program which aims to translate Australian kids’ love of footy into an appreciation, understanding and passion for the science and mathematics underlying the sport.

“As part of the program, students will explore concepts such as statistics, aerodynamics, area and reaction time which are all important aspects of the Club’s high performance football program.”

Associate Professor of STEM Education at UniSA Simon Leonard said the program would demonstrate the natural connection between sport, science and mathematics.

“Something we have found in helping kids to succeed in STEM is the importance of identity. Too often kids label themselves saying ‘I’m not a maths person’ or ‘I’m not a science person’. Programs like this can help kids to identify with STEM and see it as a significant part of their lives,” Professor Leonard said.

Data to Decisions CRC Chief Operating Officer Niall Fay said the basis of STEMfooty is a proven program that has succeeded in the USA across different sports and as a result has taught thousands of students.

“This program presents great opportunities to engage students via a medium that few STEM programs use but is highly popular, namely sport,” Fay said.

“Our mission at D2D CRC includes developing a sustainable data workforce for Australia. As a Research and Development organisation that has an interest in hiring STEM graduates and growing a STEM pipeline, it is clear this program will have widespread benefits to many industries and the education sector.”

STEMfooty will be piloted with middle and senior school students from two South Australian schools and through the Crows Academies Elite Talent Squad programs (male and female) at the Adelaide Football Club in October.

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