STEM Sports course opens up opportunities for Mesquite Junior High students
In a classroom on the campus of Mesquite Junior High School, Haley Mercy is challenging her students to identify the science, technology, engineering, and math in sports. Mercy teaches STEM Sports, a course that combines two of her favorite areas of interest. She first heard about the curriculum from one of her former students.
“At that point, I was like I want to teach this,” she said.
Mercy got the support of Principal Dan Johnson and soon she began teaching the year-long elective class. STEM Sports is a project-based course where Mesquite Junior students learn how STEM principles apply to sports like football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, golf and soccer. Mercy and her students work through class modules and put their knowledge to the test through a series of lab experiments.
“If it was a force lab for instance, they are measuring how fast they are kicking the ball and how far it is traveling over a certain period of time,” she said.
Mercy, a former college volleyball player, says the class draws an equal number of sports and STEM enthusiasts. No matter what reason students enroll in the class, Mercy knows they always walk away with new knowledge.
“Honestly, I think this class can provide something different for everyone,” she said.
Currently, the course is only available to eighth grade students at Mesquite Junior, but its popularity does not go unnoticed among seventh graders. They are eagerly awaiting their chance to take the class, especially after seeing the older students testing out their experiments on campus.
“It kind of naturally markets itself when the kids see it and decide they want to do it,” Mercy said.
Recently, Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane McCord visited Mercy’s class. He participated in an outdoor lab experiment, where students were measuring how fast they could throw a baseball. Mercy says that’s just one example of the exciting stuff her students get to do on a daily basis.
“Honestly, we just have such a good time every single day. It doesn’t even feel like we are doing work when we have to work,” she said.
Mercy also helps students explore career opportunities in STEM Sports by discussing trade schools, colleges, and the workforce. She explains how the skills they are learning in the course can be applied in the real world, from sports marketing to engineering golf clubs.
“My hope is that it just opens up avenues that they didn’t know were there before,” she said.