Students from Bayside STEM Academy in San Mateo will soon be turning in their textbooks for playbooks, as they take a break from their homeroom to visit the home turf of the San Francisco 49ers.
Teacher Joe Spina will bring nearly 150 of his students to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara for a day of innovative lessons Friday, April 15, designed to educate students on ways creative curriculum can intersect with sports.
Spina, a seventh-grade teacher at the school focused on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, said students are excited for the chance to tackle complex issues through the lens of learning on the gridiron.
“This is a once in almost a lifetime opportunity for the students to take a trip like this,” he said.
The free field trip is hosted by the 49ers Museum, an arm of the team’s educational outreach initiative committed to offering local students unique learning opportunities.
During the trip, students will participate in interactive lessons designed to show real-world applications of concepts which otherwise may be difficult for some to catch.
Educational coaches will lead crash courses on the importance of exercise and healthy living, engineering and sustainability concepts of the new stadium, technological advancements in football equipment, the influence of mathematical theory in the way the game is played and much more.
“By the time the lesson is complete, students will learn how to think like a designer and understand that by applying a design-centered approach to problems found in the game, that teams can conceive radically innovative solutions, and understand how to assess the effectiveness of their solutions, so as to improve the game in various ways,” according to a document from the 49ers.
Spina praised the program’s vision of capturing the imagination of students through lessons which they may not typically equate with sports, or football.
“It gives students a great eye-opening experience, and it is a rigorous learning experience,” he said. “It is well-rounded. It will be fun.”
He said he believed the field trip will be one of the school’s biggest events of the year, and expressed his appreciation for the 49ers’ willingness to make the program possible.
Spina said the team approached him to invite the students, and credits the organization for being tremendously accommodating throughout the entire process.
“We are really appreciative of this opportunity,” he said.
Spina teaches medieval social studies at the school, and aims to integrate principles of STEM curriculum into each of his lessons, so he is able to admire the innovative approach to the education offered during the field trip.
The lessons offered during the trip are also aligned with the state’s recently implemented Common Core and science standards, said Spina.
After receiving the invitation from the team, Spina said he rushed at the chance to participate.
“When this came up, I jumped for it,” he said.
Older students will have a chance to learn more about ways to lay the groundwork toward a career which exists at the space between sports and STEM concepts.
Students will also have opportunity to tour the new stadium, and explore the museum dedicated to preserving the club’s history, as well as the sport’s development.
Spina said he has received curriculum from the club that he will begin to roll out in the days leading up to field trip to prepare students.
Should the trip go well, he is hopeful to build a relationship with the franchise, which will lead to further trips in the future.
“There are a lot of opportunities and possibilities all around,” he said. “So it’s very exciting for us to get that rich experience.”
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