The San Francisco 49ers hosted their first Football and STEM summer camp program this year, with the three-day camp session giving more than 80 children between grades three and eight the opportunity to explore the values of education and fitness through a number of activities meant to teach the fundamentals and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). At the same time, attendees learned important life skills like respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and teamwork.
"The experience for these kids is understanding how sports science and the concept of STEM are represented in football and vice versa," said Jesse Lovejoy, director of STEM education and the 49ers Museum.
Daily activities at the camp begin with educational STEM lessons which were then translated onto the practice field. Such lessons included football force and movement, innovation in football equipment, strength and training, and flexibility and speed drills.
A joint creation between the 49ers STEM Education Program and the 49ers Youth Football Program, the camp received appearances by several of the team's players, including Ian Williams.
"It was important to us that the kids experience a fun and interactive camp, while also walking away with a greater appreciation for education, fitness and overall health," said Jared Muela, director of 49ers fan engagement and youth football. "I think we were able to accomplish just that, and having that reinforced by Ian Williams speaking to campers about the importance of hydration makes it that much more powerful."
Many of the players are involved in STEM education both on and off the field. Joshua Garnett, who was drafted out of Stanford in 2016, studied Biology while in college and has said that he would like to become a trauma surgeon after he completes his career in football, reports Hayley Slye for SportTechie.
Parents were invited to join their children for the final day of camp, which included a closing ceremony for the first class of Football and STEM Academy summer camp graduates, reports Emily Lucas for the 49ers.
Opening at the same time as Levi's Stadium in 2014, the 49ers STEM Education Program offers learning platforms for students in grades K-8 that make use of the STEM principles in their lessons. More than 60,000 children participate in the program on an annual basis, with 50% of the students coming from Title I designated schools. The STEM program has previously teamed up with local Silicon Valley tech companies such as Wonder Workshop robotics.
Children between the ages of five and 18 are offered the chance to participate in the San Francisco 49ers Youth Football Program that allows them to experience football through a number of diverse programs seeking to produce leaders both on and off the field. Over 26,000 children were directly impacted by the program in 2015, with 180 events hosted by the program in partnership with the NFL's "Play 60" initiative, which encourages children to play outside for an hour each day.
The 49ers are currently finalists for ESPN's "Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year Award," in part because of their commitment to STEM education.