THIS GIANT BASKET of baked goods is a virtual gift for some really amazing humans. It is for Josiah, Bronwen, Rosanne, Matt, and Jesse. They are just a few of the fabulous people who work for the 49ers Museum Education Department. The world really is full of some fantastic people. I wish I could send them a REAL giant basket of baked goods -- I would bake them some of the best cupcakes you've ever seen.
I took 90 students to Levi Stadium yesterday. It was an AMAZING field trip. First of all it was free. We didn't pay a single dime. They even hired two charter buses to bring us to the stadium. Our students dutifuly showed up at 6:15 in the morning pumped and ready to hit the road.
As you may recall, I am not what you would call a Sportsball fanatic. The Husband loves his Cowboys and I am probably in the same room he is when he is watching, but I don't really watch. Televised sports in general seem kind of boring to me. I'd rather actually play than sit and watch. However, I have come to DEARLY LOVE the 49ers organization. I mean that I DEEPLY admire them.
Many companies say that they are committed to education and donate money to schools which is great. But I did not EXPECT a football team to actually build several state-of-the-art classrooms within their stadium. I did not expect them to hire teachers and other "coaches" to develop lessons that make connections between athletics, science, teachnoloy, engineering, art and math. The York family did. I'm not kidding. There are three classrooms within Levi Stadium.
Students spent the day deep in the hidden layers of Levi Stadium. They built things, tested equipment, and tried on some gear. They learned about the design process which was posted all over the place, as they tried to build a small-scale stadium that could withstand the weight of a modern football helmet. They were surrounded by individuals committed to support and developing STEAM education for students.
If the above basket of pastries are my virtual gift to the staff of the 49ers Museum Education department, then I would need an entire truck to express my thanks to Jesse Lovejoy, the director of the program and Jed York. I met the two of them a few years ago at the first LearnStorm celebration. My students had fought hard to claw their way to the top of the leaderboards of Khan Academy's math challenge during its pilot year. The pay off was to attend the celebration at Google Headquarters. It was there that we heard Jed York's moving story of being shocked that his wife, who taught middle school, was unable to take her students on a free field trip because they didn't have any transportation to get there. It was a story that many educators can relate to.
My students and I are beneficiaries of the York family, and the 49ers organization's understanding that it takes more than cost-free opportunities to level the playing field from some of our most economically challenged students; it takes buses. Our students emerged from those beautiful chartered buses to the welcoming cheers of the staff at Levi Stadium. They were cheerful and encouraging. They greeted students with amazing workbooks stuffed full of amazing STEAM activities, and examples of science, math, engineering and even art that can be found in sports. All day long, they were challenged, cheered, and led around that beautiful stadium as though they were the VIPs. As my group of 30 students peered across the grounds to the practice field where the players were working hard running their drills, our Coach, Bronwen told them, "They work very hard every day, and you can see how much science and technology goes into making them the best they can be, and that's why we need people like you, who work hard and study. Something you create and design, might be used by a team of athletes, like ours. You could be the ones that lead a team to a championship." My students who were watching the distant figures with awe, turned to her and nodded their heads. You could see the wheels spinning. "Maybe," You could see them thinking with bright eyes, "Maybe it could be me."
These are the kinds of things that can be game changers fro students. It is an event such as this that can shift a kid from not caring about science or math, to see it's practical value applied to sports. It can help spark a child's interest in something that they might never have thought had any value.
Sometimes it can be easy to focus on how many things are going wrong all around us, but it seems that at every turn, I am made aware of just how many hundreds of people are out there every day, working to make the world better for children. Sometimes that goodness is found in the most surprising of places. Sometimes it is found behind the walls of an NFL football stadium, where some AMAZING MVPs bend beside a desk, to listen as child explains the thought process behind their design solution to making cleats more effective.
Thank you to the York family, Jesse Lovejoy and all the hard work friends at the 49ers Museum. We appreciate greatly all you've done for us, and I look forward to seeing how many more students you can impact now that you've partnered with Khan Academy. If you want to experience just a bit of this awesome program, you can now -- through Khan Academy. Check it out. It is not only an exciting and worthwhile learning program, but I can tell you first hand that it was built out of the hard work and love, of some really wonderful humans.
Everyone has a right to a world-class education. Everyone.