The energy company and universities are partnering with Engage Learning to create STEM labs to learn the science behind sports.
Devon Energy CEO Rick Muncrief kicked off the company’s five-year STEM program with Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma Aug. 4 by noting that the program is intended to “foster a love of STEM in all kids, even if they prefer to pick up a football over a calculator.”
Partnering with Norman-based Engage Learning, Devon and the universities will be offering SportsLabs as a way to use the sports students love to engage them about science, especially physics. The labs will allow students to interact with athletes, educators and mentors to learn the science behind their favorite sports, both to improve their performance and to foster a lifelong love of science.
Since 2017, Engage has created opportunities for students to learn the practical application of sciences to contemporary issues by bringing them together to collaborate in hands-on projects like building a solar-powered greenhouse, designing a playground, building a portable battery-sharing system and other tasks that encourage critical thinking and problem solving.
“I went to college on a softball scholarship, and a professor helped me see the opportunities of medical school, so I understand the power of combining sports and science,” OSU president Kayse Shrum said. “When we bring the two together, more children will understand the games and activities they love can lead them into exciting careers, even if they never play competitive sports.”
The new program will use OU and OSU athletes to help run learning exercises and drills in the sports labs. The labs themselves will be offered at multiple times and locations throughout the year, including as part of pregame fan fests at football, basketball and other sports on the university campuses. SportsLabs will also travel to Oklahoma communities throughout the year, and postseason events will be held for football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and softball in half-day educational workshops.