New 'Science of Baseball' ready for takeoff at Nationals Youth Baseball Academy

Every student looks forward to the carefree days of summer, but for many, time away from school can come at an academic cost. Most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over summer months. For low-income children, that summer learning loss has a particularly negative impact. Research shows that more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.

The Nationals Youth Baseball Academy is looking to reverse that trend amongst the Scholar Athletes enrolled in its summer programming. Together with a collection of strategic partners, the Academy has developed an interactive, experiential and fun STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum rooted in baseball and softball. The goal is not just to ward off summer learning loss, but measurably improve educational attainment of the Scholar Athletes in science and math over this summer, while fostering among them a genuine passion for STEM.

Baseball and softball offer an ideal experiential vehicle for teaching STEM skills. Observing and collecting measurements, hypothesizing and predicting, summarizing and analyzing data -- all are inherent to the play or enjoyment of the game. The game presents countless opportunities to use arithmetic, geometry, physics, statistics, etc. or to present principles such as laws of motion, ratios, areas, percentages, and more.

The Academy's "Science of Baseball" curriculum is being developed in partnership with the University of Arizona Department of Engineering and will comprise a five-week curriculum culminating in a final week of presentations from the Scholar Athletes on lessons learned. Covering a variety of the topics mentioned above, each of the lessons will be highly interactive, experiential, team and project based, involved with technology and multimedia, and -- most importantly -- fun! The Academy goal is to foster a measurable and lasting passion and aptitude for STEM among the kids being served by the Academy.