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After-school clubs ‘can improve poorer children’s education’

The Guardian – Staff Writer

“After-school clubs can improve the academic performance and social skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, research shows. The study of 6,400 children in England found that those who took part in organised sports and physical activities at the ages of five, seven and 11 were almost one and a half times more likely to reach a higher than expected level in their Key Stage 2 (KS2) maths test at the age of 11. Disadvantaged children who attended after-school clubs also fared better than their peers who did not take part.”(more)

It’s March Madness! Why We Should Teach STEM with Sports

Getting Smart – Blair Blackwell

“For students across America who are sports fan, this time of year can be exciting and captivating. Whether your student is throwing a football to emulate a Super Bowl touchdown drive, practicing kickflips in anticipation of being the next X Games champion, or shooting three-pointers in anticipation of March Madness, a common theme in all sports is that practice is the key to success. But, what many people may not realize, is the role that STEM plays in taking these sports to the next level. Tapping into a student’s interest in sports can provide an effective, hands-on and fun approach to teaching STEM. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), 21.5 million kids between the ages of 6 and 17 played sports in 2011. By implementing STEM education initiatives through sports programs, we can reach a variety of students to show the relationship between their favorite sports and their classroom lessons.”(more)

Science Is Life … The Rest Just Details

The Huffington Post – John F. Ince

“Two years ago Hannah Herbst of Baca Roton, Florida, seemed to be just a regular teenager. She, fit in well with her peers. She was a normal girl … a soccer girl … a basketball girl. She very well might have been one of those kids wearing one of those T-shirts that read, “Soccer is life … the rest just details.” But that was all before her father, Joel Herbst, an assistant dean for educational programs at Florida Atlantic University got that crazy idea about enrolling Hannah in engineering camp. When they arrived, she looked around and immediately noticed one thing – there were 40 guys in the room and one girl – her. She turned to her dad, gave him one of those looks and said, “Let’s go home. I don’t want to be here.”…But something strange happened on day one. Hannah got hooked…Soon Hannah was seeing the world around her differently, asking questions about the way things worked that don’t usually occur to soccer girls and basketball girls…Joel Herbst sees it this way, “As parents, we often try to guide, push or coerce our kids into things that we think they’ll be good at without letting them explore the broad range of activities and opportunities that are out there. When I attend a soccer game and I see the parents screaming at the top of their lungs, I say to myself, Gee I wish they would do that for their students in math or science.” But parents who want they kids to explore the broader array of activities are up against all kinds of social pressure that point kids in other directions. Says, Joel, “I’m not painting a broad brush, but I just wish we, as a country, would value, the promise and opportunities that exist in education as much as we do on the athletic field.””(more)

Bang to rights

The Economist – Staff Writer

“FRED McNEILL, an American-football player, died in November at the age of 63. Between 1974 and 1985 he appeared for the Minnesota Vikings. After leaving them he became a lawyer but in later years suffered from dementia and was told that he had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease. His recent death has become a milestone in the understanding of brain disorders, for post-mortem examination has confirmed this diagnosis—retrospectively making him the first person to be so diagnosed while alive. CTE is the physical manifestation in the brain of punch-drunk syndrome—or dementia pugilistica, to give its Latinised, medical name. As that name suggests, this form of dementia particularly affects boxers, who are hit on the head as a matter of course. But doctors now understand that it is also a problem in people like Mr McNeill, who get hit on the head accidentally in contact sports. Mr McNeill, along with several other retired players, volunteered to let researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) use a scanning technique called positron-emission tomography (PET) to look at their brains.”(more)

Schools and hard knocks

The Economist – Staff Writer

“IMAGINE being asked to take part in an activity that gives you somewhere between a 1-in-5 and 1-in-20 chance of a serious head injury over a four-month period. That could lead to weeks of impaired mental performance and headaches, and, especially if the blows are repeated, the danger of longer-term mental-health problems. Now imagine that your child is the one taking that risk. Such are the dangers associated with playing American football. The risks of concussion are higher still in rugby, one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. These concerns have already prompted some changes. Rugby has introduced “head-injury assessment” rules, enabling players who have suspected concussions to be substituted temporarily so that they can be checked by medical staff. All 50 of America’s states have adopted “return to play” laws that require medical clearance before younger athletes who have sustained a concussion can take to the field again.”(more)

Amy Donaldson: We need to find more time for play in schools

Deseret News – Amy Donaldson

“…if everyone agrees that play time benefits young people, why is there so little of it left in most schools?…We should be finding more ways for children to participate, more activities in which they can be involved…Recess, like organized sports, is about teaching children to love movement. It fosters cooperation and imagination and enhances fitness. It’s about realizing that when you make time for joy, you can more easily deal with life’s difficulties. We should be looking for more ways for our children to enjoy unstructured play, while we simultaneously look for more ways to let all teens, not just those with club and college aspirations, participate in competitive sports and activities.”(more)