Science of baseball is big hit with middle-school students

An oversized wooden compass sits on the dusty baseball field. Three students stand next to it, holding a giant yellow slingshot pulled taut. The girl in the middle leans back, gaining traction, and releases, launching a tennis ball across the field at a perfect 45-degree angle.

They were among a dozen students from Mansfeld Magnet Middle School who took the field on Saturday, measuring ball trajectory and pitch velocity in a Science of Baseball camp.

Ricardo Valerdi, a professor in the University of Arizona Department of Systems and Industrial Engineering, started the camp three years ago.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Science of Baseball Program

Launched in 2013, the Arizona Diamondbacks Science of Baseball presented by Chase and Insight, is a series of programs and initiatives that promote the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The program provides a mechanism for elementary and middle school students to improve their academic performance. The goal is to translate the American love of baseball into an appreciation, understanding, and passion of the science and mathematics underlying the sport.

This season-long program aims to engage and empower students with a university research-based curriculum, designed with College Professor and STEM Expert Ricardo Valerdi. To date, more than 9,000 students, 300 teachers, and 200 schools have participated in the program.

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