Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority. – Vince Lombardi.
As the world cup fever rages and obsesses a lot of our people, and as I sat back yesterday observing multitudes gather to watch the match between Argentina and Nigeria, the question hit me: Do extracurricular activities contribute to students’ success at school? I then set about some research on this, as a scientist would in seeking answers to such questions that strike me. The research came up with the optimistic finding that extracurricular activities impart positive influences on students who partake in them. They lead to higher self-esteem and an elevated social status among peers, by those involved.
Yet when schools have financial issues with extracurricular activities, particularly art, music, and drama but sometimes sports as well, they quickly cut them out. We need parents and students to protest against this, while the public needs to be educated on the importance of these activities and their value in increasing the academic performance of students.
Tying the interests of students to education is a win-win proposition.
In my research, I found a school in California, U.S.A that mixed soccer and STEM. It helped curb troublesome behavior among the children as they learnt key STEM topics, while having fun and being physically active. These structured activities enable students to be interested and engaged in learning. The concepts of STEM subjects are connected and the students really enjoy this, as the administrators found out. As a result, suspensions were reduced by 79 per cent in the school system in the California district where the programme is being implemented.
The real bonus is that the coaches in the programme are soccer players who are equally enrolled in colleges. They are young, cool and the students admire them enormously because they can identify with them as people they aspire to be like.
In the STEM and soccer stints, students learn the shape of DNA molecules by dribbling in a double helix pattern; they also track and graph their heart rates after fluctuating levels of activity. Another preoccupation is the dribbling of a ball around a solar system of orange traffic cones, and equally acquiring knowledge about the relationships between the planets as they navigate around the sun.
The coaches use activity worksheets to explore topics such as force and gravity, engineering design, weather and climate and mathematics. They use being able to play soccer as an incentive for the activities for the children. Imagine our children being involved in engaging activities such as these?! Learning while doing is always fun!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.