The Dallas Mavericks host a Science of Basketball student camp, presented by PwC, at Dallas ISD’s Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School this week and brought the classroom to court. The pep-rally-style event was a celebration of all the hard work that fifth-grade students and teachers have contributed this year.
Each year, Mavs collaborates with Science of Sport to empower Dallas ISD students and make learning convenient for students. The program teaches young people to understand scientific and technical concepts through the game of basketball. For example, the correct arc and rotation of a shot requires the elbow to remain bent at 90 degrees before being released. Then there are other concepts like calculating wing span and using fractions to determine free throw percentages.
The program involves Texas standard-based curriculum for fifth- and sixth-grade teachers and practical camps for students and teachers. This season, the Mavericks and PwC announced that the Science of Basketball program is offered to all fifth-graders in Dallas ISD.
Mavs forward / center Dwight Powell and NBA legend Rolando Blackman have participated in the Science of Basketball for the past five seasons.
Both teachers and students love the interactive lessons because it makes learning fun. Everything has to do with basketball.
“People do not understand that when you look at a basket, I think of the fingertips, the elbow, the structure, the arch,” Blackman explained.
“I think about getting the ball to the center of the basket and how it feels. So just the addition of the scientific piece can make everything as interesting as I learned as a child. “
Wednesday afternoon’s event at Blanton Elementary in Pleasant Grove included a special performance by Blackman, the Mavs community relations team, plus the Mavs ManiAACs and D-Town Crew entertainers.
Powell had to miss the event due to NBA playoff preparations.
Science of Sport CEO Daren Heaton was also present to oversee the event and work with the students. Heaton is a former collegiate baseball player who previously worked for the Arizona Diamondbacks and now delivers STEM programs to over 20 professional sports teams around the country.
Dallas ISD’s Blanton Elementary is a fascinating school with one of the most famous stories in North Texas. Years ago, 90 percent of students lived below the poverty line, and the school repeatedly tested below the state level.
Everything changed about five years ago, and Blanton has blossomed into one of the best PK-5 schools in the district. One of the main reasons for the big turnaround is that DISD hired extraordinary new teachers and administrators to lead the campus. DISD also hired Rector Alicia Iwasko, a member of DISD’s “Accelerating Campus Excellence” program.
She has been at the school ever since to see the primary school become a first-class primary school.
Iwasko said she is incredibly proud of the students and teachers who continue to soar. Wednesday’s Science of Basketball event was an accumulation of a lot of hard work.
“We wanted to make this experience as memorable as possible today,” Iwasko said. “We are so happy that every student in fifth grade can do these activities. The science of Basketball is very important to the students.
“They ask the math questions and learn about angles, which is very important. Many of them say, ‘oh, math is not for me’ or ‘no, I do not want to try,’ but this program has opened their eyes to a new way of learning.
Leaders from Science of Sport were ready to help guide the students at Wednesday’s camp, and Blackman and the entertainers also stepped in to guide the students through various stations.
The children dribbled between cones, made breast deliveries to hit a square goal, worked on agility exercises and learned to calculate their free throw percentages. Even for those who work with professional sports on a daily basis, science and math are an important part of the job. The analysis team constantly sequences player statistics for the best matches, and they calculate the performance and statistics for each shot a player takes to determine where they score the most. Meanwhile, sports reporters use game percentages and statistical data to determine the success of an individual’s game.
Using the same concepts in the classroom makes complete sense, and every Science of Basketball lesson brings math and science learning alive for young people.
Students in fifth grade across Dallas ISD received a Science of Basketball workbook this year with unique lessons such as measuring wingspan, understanding pay ceilings, and venturing with Mavs to visit NBA teams across the country using math.
Blackman, a 13-year-old NBA veteran who scored over 17,000 points and pulled down 3,000 rebounds, says his most important accomplishments in life took place in the classroom.
He knows the value of an education.
He is a strong supporter of Mavs Science of Basketball workshops and camps because he can combine his love of basketball and education.
“Science for me is fun, and that’s how I used myself when I played the game anyway,” Blackman said. “Shoot basketball, how far, the angle, the defense, how fast you have to get to the courts.
“It’s a great application that I think if teachers can put together a format that keeps it fun, the work will be fun too.”
The science of Basketball makes learning practical and fun. It is a gift that can transform students’ lives and help them find a new love for sports and basketball.
The program helps students in meaningful ways. There is the classroom aspect, but young people can also connect with their parents and friends through something joyful like sports.
Basketball, and even sports in general, has this magnetic way of uniting people regardless of age, race or gender. There are countless reasons why this program continues to flourish for students and teachers in the classroom.
Blackman said he really appreciates the teachers and students who participate in the Mavs Science of Basketball programs each year.
“These things will be important to students later in life,” he said.
To learn more about Maverick’s Science of Basketball, click here.