SportTechie Feature “Science of Sport Seeks to Grow Its Impact in STEM Education”

Check out this Science of Sport feature on SportTechie!

“The day after the Los Angeles Dodgers clinched a berth in their second-straight NLCS was a warm and pleasant afternoon in Southern California. A group of educators gathered in an auditorium at Worthington Elementary in Inglewood, Calif., clad in blue. Smiles and chatter filled the room. Not because the local nine—Dodger Stadium is just 11 miles away—was on its way toward another hopeful World Series berth, but because the teachers were playing around with baseball itself, learning how pitches and base running can be used to demonstrate math and physics concepts.

The event was organized by Science of Sport, a non-profit foundation that aims to use sports to promote science, technology, engineering, and math education. Now in its fifth year of operation, the organization has served more than 100,000 students across nine different states. The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is one of the newest believers in SoS and its method of inspiring both educators and students alike.

“For more than two decades, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation has worked to drive positive change and strengthen some of the most challenged communities in the greater Los Angeles region. At the core of our mission is the significant impact of sports as an engagement tool to get kids and families access to educational, health and recreational resources—keeping them active and supporting their academic success,” said Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Executive Director Nichol Whiteman. “We strongly believe that education programs, like Science of Baseball, can provide access, opportunity and innovation to youth at critical engagement stages.”

When University of Arizona associate engineering professor Ricardo Valerdi founded Science of Sport in 2013, he was looking to use the power of sports to inspire engagement and redirect that towards learning.

“I read Moneyball, and the light bulb went off,” Valerdi said Ricardo. “I asked myself ‘Why can’t we use baseball statistics to teach kids math?’ Then, we started doing it, seeing the ways kids responded, and then the bulbs really started flashing. We knew we’d found something.”

Valerdi, along with executive director Daren Heaton, has turned the small upstart operation, which initially only used baseball as a teaching too, into a diverse organization running teacher trainings, STEM showcases, and more.

SoS is also currently developing a game app to expand the reach of its curriculum, and to make it more accessible to younger, more digitally connected, generations. “We know the power that gamification can bring to learning. With our app, we’ll be able to transform the paper curriculum into something that digital natives can relate to,” Heaton said. “It allows us and our content to live in their world, which will make us more effective.”

Valerdi and Heaton believe that the app will allow the organization to grow by two orders of magnitude, reaching another 100,000 students and integrating its teaching techniques with more sports, within the next five to 10 years.

“If we continue to produce good content, build an appealing app and it’s available on the Apple Store, anything is possible,” said Valerdi.

The app is a partnership between Science of Sport and dfusion, an app developer that typically focuses on health and wellness solutions. dfusion’s Jill Denner and Tamara Kuhn are bringing the technical and research-based expertise to the development of the project, while SoS is providing the content and teaching knowhow.

“I am excited to partner with the dynamic and innovative team from Science of Sport to extend the work that my colleagues and I have been doing on equity and inclusion in STEM,” Denner said. “The game is being designed with an eye toward engaging females and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, and is being informed by educational and learning sciences research.”

At Worthington Elementary on Oct. 9, Science of Sport’s focus was concentrated on teachers, rather than students, because just like an app, individual educators can reach out to a multitude of students. Even in a digital world, developing teachers remains a key part of what SoS does.

“Experiences like this are extremely important,” said Nicole Elliott, a second and third grade teacher at Worthington. “Many of our kids don’t get to go to games, to do lots of these things … being able to provide things like this for them is awesome. These are very different kinds of activities we are learning about today. We don’t do things like that here at school, kids are going to love these.”

Gilbert Lopez, another second and third grade educator at Worthington, believes making connections with something his students are familiar with can help reinforce key learning concepts. “I’m a big believer in baseball, I use it in a lot of the things we do in class,” he said. “It’s something they love and see every day, which makes it something that helps them learn more easily.”

Jesse Lovejoy is the Director of 49ers EDU and the 49ers Museum. He’s also Managing Partner of EDU Academy, which was created to help organizations understand how to harness the power of sport to introduce STEAM education programming. In his free time, he hangs out with his wife Stephanie, daughter Vivienne, and their two rescue dogs, Buster and Lucy, and nerds out on different ways to inspire young learners.”

Science of Sport and Metropolitan Youth Foundation

Science of Sport recently began a partnership with Kerry Williams, Jr. and the Metropolitan Youth Foundation in Louisiana. Together, Science of Sport is helping to promote the growth of Louisiana children by bringing sports into the classroom and making STEM concepts come to life! Here is a little more about the Metropolitan Youth Foundation:


Metropolitan Youth Foundation, Inc. is a youth organization founded by Kerry T. Williams, Jr. and his wife, Stephanie. Kerry believes that the youth are our greatest strength and has coached and mentored children of various ages through a variety of programs over the past 35 years. Helping young people through a program that offers physical activity, academic enrichment, and mentorship is his vision for Metropolitan.

Kerry T. Williams, Jr. said, “Of all the partnerships Metropolitan Youth Foundation share, the most exciting, informative, attention grabber and most impressive is the Science of Sport! Metropolitan Youth Foundation engages our youth with an holistic approach to learning through sports.  Our goal is to create the best student-athletes around.  Science of Sport not only will assist us in doing so, but it will headline as a premier component of our organization! Science of Sport is the only program present in all programming aspects of MYF, such as MindStar (tutoring), MetroSteam (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics Clubs, MYSL (sports leagues), and PlaySafe (Student Athletes Fundamentals and Education). PlaySafe is the sports instruction initiative of Metropolitan Youth Foundation and employs an educational component to ensure our participants receive skills enhancement that will help them in school.”

The partnership between the Metropolitan Youth Foundation and Science of Sport has Kerry very excited about the upcoming Fall programs in New Orleans. He said, “Science of Sport has given us a tremendous edge necessary to set MYF apart from any other after school program!”

To learn more about the Metropolitan Youth Foundation or to get in contact with Kerry:



Check out their website to learn more! If you would like to partner with Science of Sport, please email us at

Dallas Mavericks Science of Basketball Program

The Dallas Mavericks and Flowserve partnered with Dallas Independent School District for the Dallas Mavericks Science of Basketball program presented by Flowserve to provide engaging programs to students in the Dallas area.


The Dallas mavericks Science of Basketball provides a mechanism for elementary and middle school students to improve their academic performance. Our goal is to translate the love of basketball into an appreciation, understanding, and passion of the science and mathematics underlying the sport.

Program Details:

  • Developed a Dallas Mavericks Science of Basketball 10-lesson curriculum for schools to use in the classroom or after school program
  • Hosted a teacher workshop for 20 5th and 6th grade level teachers
  • Developed 20 Science of Basketball Kits including all the classroom materials and sporting equipment needed to implement at the school
  • Provided assessment and evaluation on student growth and teacher effectiveness
  • Developed website for teachers to access curriculum, worksheets, and online resources
  • Provided a Mavericks Science of Basketball 1-day student camp for 100 students


  • More than 2,000 students
  • More than 20 teachers
  • 10 schools participated in the program

Student Camp Photos:

Sun Belt Science of Basketball funded by College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers Initiative and the Allstate Sugar Bowl

The Sun Belt Science of Basketball in partnership with the Allstate Sugar Bowl and College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers initiative hosted over 1,000 students from the New Orleans area at a 4-day STEM Field Trip during the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament from March 6th – March 9th.



To bring science, technology, engineering, and math to life through the love of basketball to the students of the New Orleans area and enrich their learning with engaging curriculum.

Program Details:

  • Improve teacher effectiveness in teaching STEM by utilizing sport examples and to improve student interest/performance in STEM through hands-on learning
  • Train local New Orleans Math, Science, and Physical Education teachers on the Sun Belt Science of Football, Basketball, and Baseball curriculum that uses hands-on learning opportunities through sports examples
  • Each teacher that participated in the professional development workshop received a 15 lesson plan curriculum that aligned with state standards, a kit that included all of the classroom and sporting equipment needed to implement the lessons in the classroom, dinner, and received professional development hours for attending the training
  • Start to build a community portal that provides teachers with the opportunity to share best practices that deliver materials and resources for long-term sustainability of the program
  • In addition to the teacher workshops, we were able to provide services directly to students whose teachers participated in the program through student camps and field trips. These student field trips were held prior to the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament


Through the support from the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and the Sun Belt Conference, we were able to have the following impact through the Sun Belt Science of Basketball program:

  • More than 30 teachers
  • More than 2,000 students
  • More than 25 schools have participated in the program

Field Trip Day Photos:

Over 1,000 students from schools throughout the New Orleans area came down to University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena during the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament. Athletes from the University of Louisiana at Monroe Men’s Basketball team and the University of South Alabama Women’s Basketball team volunteered their morning off to help get the students excited about STEM through basketball.


Teacher Training Photos:

Sun Belt Science of Basketball hosted 20 teachers from the New Orleans area to come to University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena for a workshop where they each took home a full curriculum workbook and a kit of all the materials they need to implement Science of Basketball in their classrooms. They also got to stay for dinner and received tickets to the Sun Belt Conference Basketball Tournament games that evening.

During halftime at the last game of the evening, the teachers were brought to the court to be recognized for their great work in New Orleans.


Curriculum Content:

Lesson 1 – Jersey Numbers

Scholar athletes determine whether the jersey numbers of Sun Belt Conference players are prime, composite, or neither, and determine the prime factorization of the composite numbers.

Lesson 2 – Predict the Attendance

Scholar athletes predict the average attendance of Sun Belt Conference games.

Lesson 3 – Playing Time

Scholar athletes add fractions with unlike denominators using playing times of women’s college basketball players.

Lesson 4 – All-Time Best Free Throw Shooters

Scholar athletes compute and analyze free throw percentages of the all-time most accurate free throw shooters.

Lesson 5 – Shooting Percentages

Scholar athletes calculate the shooting percentages, then calculate their own shooting percentages, from different distances.

Lesson 6 – Average Points Per Game

Scholar athletes make calculations based on points, games played, and points per game.

Lesson 7 – Geometry of a Basketball Court

Scholar athletes calculate the perimeter and area using dimensions of an NCAA basketball court, and outline a basketball court in a classroom using proportional reasoning.

Lesson 8 – Basketball Air Pressure

Scholar athletes measure the effect that changes in air pressure have on the bounce of a basketball.

Lesson 9 – Height, Weight, and Wingspan

Scholar athletes create a scatterplot based on the height and weight of Sun Belt Conference players, then create a scatterplot based on student heights vs. wingspans.

Lesson 10 – Nutrition

Scholar athletes will learn the basic food groups and the relationship between a healthy diet and athletic performance, as well as how to read food labels and identify daily values for various food components such as fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, protein, etc.

Lesson 11 – Heart Rate

Scholar athletes measure and compare their resting and exercise-related heart rates.

Lesson 12 – Plus/Minus Statistic

Scholar athletes rank order Sun Belt Conference players by their Box Plus/Minus (BPM).

Lesson 13 – Wins and Losses

Scholar athletes represent the wins and losses of the 2016-17 Sun Belt Conference men’s and women’s basketball teams on a bar graph.

Lesson 14 – Sun Belt Conference School Enrollment and Basketball Team Wins

Scholar athletes compare the enrollments of Sun Belt Conference schools to the number of wins by their men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Lesson 15 – Design an Arena

Scholar athletes design a basketball arena.


Arizona Tax Credit Donation


Your Arizona Tax Credit Can Help Science of Sport Impact More Students Throughout Arizona

Arizona taxpayers may support our programs for students through a donation to Science of Sport as a Qualifying Charitable Organization (QCO) until April 17, 2018 and receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against your 2017 state tax liability.

The limits for 2017 a Qualifying Charitable Organization allow for up to $400 for single filers and up to $800 married/joint filling.

FAQ’s for Arizona State Taxpayers

Beginning with the 2016 tax year, credit eligible contributions made to a Qualifying Charitable Organization or Qualifying Foster Care Charitable Organization that are made on or before April 16th (the 15th day of the fourth month following the close of the taxable year) may be applied to either the current or the preceding taxable year and is considered to have been made on the last day of that taxable year.

NOTE: Because calendar year filers have until April 17, 2018, to file their 2017 tax return, these taxpayers also have until April 17, 2018, to make qualifying contributions and claim these credits on their 2017 Arizona return. Donations made in 2018 are not deductible on 2017 federal filings. Please consult with a tax advisor. The tax credits are only available to individuals who file taxes in Arizona. 


Click here for a printable donation form.

Tax ID # 46-3843390

For more information please visit the State of Arizona Department of Revenue at AZDOR.GOV. You can also contact Science of Sport at (602)525-3197 or email