The skate park might not be the first place you think of when you hear terms like physics and STEM learning. Thanks to a CAS community engagement project, the Stillwater Skate Park on Main Street became a place of informal science learning and elevated skate athletes into flying physicists. Dr. Nicole Colston, assistant research faculty in the School of Teaching, Learning and Educational Sciences, and Dr. Bobbi Kay Lewis, assistant dean of outreach and communications for the College of Arts and Sciences, hosted Push Forward, a one-day event and skate contest for Stillwater youth aged 13-25 at Strickland Park.
“The goal is for people to think about spaces, outside of the classroom, where people can learn about science throughout their entire lifespan,” Colston said.
The contest highlighted the physics of skating and allowed skaters to connect what they love to do with science concepts. Activities included using a hand-held accelerometer (PocketLab) to measure angular velocity, or rotation, of the skateboard along three dimensions.
“We worked with community partners to shine a positive light on the skate park as a place for STEM learning,” Colston said.
Attendees of the one-day event also learned about the science and engineering behind the building of a skatepark by exploring the plans and renderings of the new skate park developed by Spohn Ranch. Construction of the new skate park at Strickland Park is scheduled to begin the first week of August.
Funded by a community engagement grant through the College of Arts and Sciences, the event was a collaboration between OSU, the Stillwater Skate Park Association and the City of Stillwater. In addition to the grant funding, the researchers worked with the following local businesses to sponsor and support the event through in-kind donations of food, prizes and resources: Beers and Sites Enterprises, Blue Spruce, Cundiff Custom Fabrication, Kicker, and Lewis Construction.
The Push Forward event was also captured on video by Caleb Jones, a multimedia journalism major in the School of Media & Strategic Communications.