One of the three core topics in the “STEM on the Move” project is to develop a sensor equipped throwing ball that will make STEM fun and experienceable for pupils.

All the technical developments – the app development, the sensor integration in the ball and the technology transmitting the throwing data back to the tablet app – are fully running.

Moreover, there has also been a lot of progress regarding the educational theory.  After an in-depth analysis of different German curriculums in terms of usable STEM topics, we developed lessons that are very close to the way the teachers work in Germany and also very close to the topics mandated by the curriculum. The purpose of this was to make the integration of our STEM setup in the daily school routines as easy as possible.

In the STEM pedagogics team, our concept is to always combine practical sports lessons with STEM lessons. As regards throwing, for example, we start with a double sports lesson to motivate the pupils and to be able to let them experiment with different possibilities of throwing a good distance. In the first part of the accompanying physics lesson, the kids learn about the connection of throwing angle and distance. In the second part of the physics lessons, we prepare them to read diagrams and interpret data. This is subsequently tried and experienced in the next sports lesson. A good angle can mean a good distance, but there is more than a good angle to maximising distance. Therefore, the pupils experiment with possibilities to increase their throwing distance. The last physics lesson is about diagram interpretation (exciting because this is their own real throwing data) and experimentations in the classroom (in a trivia format) what kind of ball movement results in what kind of data.

For practical reasons we shifted the focus away from a small throwing ball towards a 2kg medicine ball. There are numerous advantages to this approach: It can easily be done indoors, it is much easier to get a throwing/pushing curve of a medicine ball on video and resulting forces are much less and therefore less problematic to track – to mention only a few.  

During the last national project meeting, we also presented this concept to different German school teachers and principals and integrated their feedback.

Space Ball

Inspired by our international partners, we also started including other and even more motivating ways to look upon the throwing topic. This includes different throwing objects like comet balls or indoor javelins as well as other purposes of throwing – e.g. juggling and target throwing…

There is a mathematical way to describe throws for juggling called siteswaps. With this knowledge you can calculate, if patterns may work or not. You can even determine with how many objects these patterns work and get a visual demonstration with a simulator like:

Here you can find the explanation on wikipedia:

If you are a juggler or want to know more how this could help teaching STEM you can contact  Martin. And if you are deep into advanced mathematics you can find advanced STEM for adults hereJ: Maths and Juggling