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Rice University School Mathematics Project

Warming Up to STEM Courtside

RUSMP and the Rice Athletics Department collaborated to provide fun and educational STEM activities for 4,000 3rd- through 5th-grade students from local schools before the Rice men's basketball game against St. Thomas University on December 17, 2015. The science behind parabolic motion (or motion due to gravity) and rectilinear motion (or straight line motion) was illustrated. The game of basketball provides perfect examples of these motions in the shooting, dribbling, and passing of the basketball.

The entire RUSMP team led activities for students to explore potential (or stored) energy and kinetic energy (or energy of motion) on the basketball court and in the stands. Students in the audience computed math problems inscribed on beach balls that were tossed to demonstrate parabolic motion. Students on the basketball court dribbled, passed, and made shots to illustrate the various ball motions.

At half-time, students were also able to experience a drone presentation by Rice's Center for Engineering Leadership and Trumbull Unmanned. Rice won the game 67 to 54.

A parent who accompanied a busload of kids from a nearby school was very enthusiastic about the event, noting that Rice provides fun experiences that are always full of learning for children. A teacher commented that events such as this one inspire students to pursue STEM courses and careers.

RUSMP has been promoting Rice University's excellence beyond the hedges in PreK-12 education providing support to precollege institutions across the state since 1987. It continues to be the primary catalyst of sustained, progressive change in education in Houston-area schools and across Texas with its numerous programs for leaders, teachers, and students and through its support to schools and school districts. The December 17th event in Autry court is the latest collaboration to bring STEM from Rice University to Houston-area students of all ages.

An article about this exciting event in the Rice News/Southwest News is available here.