Temple's Sisters in Science sport science program to help girls learn science of sports

September 21, 2000

Sisters in Science sport science program at Temple to serve up scientific principles--and fun--to city's middle school students

Certainly there's an art to the way Tiger Woods hits a golf ball or how Serena Williams nails a forehand winner. But is there a science as well?

Absolutely, says Temple University science education professor Penny Hammrich. And this fall, Temple's College of Education will kick off its Sisters in Science (SIS) Sport Science program, designed to help middle school girls learn the abstract scientific principles behind such sports as tennis, golf, fencing, and basketball.

Grabbing rackets and 9-irons, basketballs and fencing foils, girls first will learn how to play the sports. Then, they'll learn the scientific concepts--things like balance, force, gravity, trajectory, speed, time and distance--behind those sports.

"This is the perfect opportunity for us to connect kids with both sports and academics," says Hammrich, founder of SIS, and herself an athlete. "Sports are becoming such a big thing now, especially for women. But we're still failing kids in academics. This program is an enticing avenue for them to learn about math and science--and sports."

The Sport Science program, which will begin with 180 sixth-graders in six Philadelphia schools, will expand over the next three years to include 540 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade girls. The program is funded through a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, which funded Temple's original Sisters in Science program six years ago.

Temple kinesiology professor Tina Sloan-Green, the first African-American head coach in the history of women's intercollegiate lacrosse, is co-director of the program along with LaSalle University education professor Greer Richardson, who coordinated the SIS program while a doctoral student at Temple.

While Sport Science begins in earnest in October, a kick-off celebration will be held Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6-9 p.m. in Temple's Diamond Club, Mitten Hall, Broad St. and Berks Mall. Retired WNBA all-star Kym Hampton, formerly of the New York Liberty, will lead a group of accomplished athletes in basketball, fencing, soccer and golf who will meet with girls and their families to demonstrate their sports--and promote academics.

Girls and their parents will get a feel for the program--and the sports--while also enjoying dinner with program participants and Temple students, athletes and coaches, who will serve as Sport Science instructors.

Sport Science will work with girls who participated in the Sisters in Science program as fourth- and fifth-graders. The original SIS program helped girls develop and maintain an interest in science and math through in-class, after-school and Saturday programs designed to accommodate girls' learning styles.

The beauty of Sport Science, says Sloan-Green, is that it targets middle school girls who have already developed a thirst for science and math education--and learning.

"We do a disservice to kids when we introduce them to something, whether it's sports or academics, get them excited about it, and just drop it," says Sloan Green, president of the Black Women in Sport Foundation and a 25-year faculty member and Hall of Fame lacrosse coach at Temple. "It's important that we have sustained programs that will follow them over time.

"When you're able to sustain their interest and enthusiasm over a period of time, you really see results in the kids. Girls are very eager to participate in sports and it's especially important to sustain that during their middle school years."

This autumn, girls will spend 10 weeks learning the mechanics--and science- of tennis and fencing. Next spring they'll spend another 10 weeks focusing on basketball and golf.

After spending five weeks on each sport, the girls will participate in a special sport day event held on a Saturday. Parents and other family members will join the girls to play the sports and will later hear the girls' presentations about the sport's science.

On a competitive basis, as many as 50 of the girls will complete week-long summer internships shadowing someone in a science- or sports-related career that interests them, such as sports therapy, exercise physiology, coaching, athletic training or biomechanical engineering.

In the next two years, the program will expand to include sports such as volleyball, track, soccer, softball and hockey. In seventh and eighth grades, the girls will participate in Saturday Academy programs, sport day events and sport science career internships.
bb-117 / September 18, 2000

Temple University

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