Feb 3, 2016
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As usual, Wednesday morning class was in session for 25 eighth graders from Richmond’s Lovonya DeJean Middle School, except this time their textbooks were replaced by footballs, and their classroom was moved across the Bay Bridge to the heart of Super Bowl City.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday, Chevron bussed Richmond students to downtown San Francisco to participate in the company’s STEM Zone at Super Bowl City. The interactive learning center uses what we experience in everyday life, including in the game of football, to get youth excited about STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Chevron and 49ers officials teamed up on the STEM Zone to teach the kids about basic STEM principals, such as why quarterbacks throw spirals, why hurling a football from a longer distance can increase the ball’s speed, and even the technology behind filming NFL games.

In the video below, Jesse Lovejoy, director of the museum at Levi’s Stadium, taught DeJean students the differences between helmets from the 1950s and today, and the importance of innovation in the game. Chevron has partnered with the 49ers by sponsoring a STEM classroom for continuous youth education in the Levi’s Stadium museum.

Matthew Van Dixon, senior manager of museum education at Levi’s Stadium, taught similar principals by comparing footballs and pads used back in the old times with those used today.

The kids were wide-eyed and ready to learn. Whether manning the controls for wire-strung sky cameras or being clocked for the speed of their football throws, the students took part in fun activities while soaking up scientific concepts taught by their STEM Zone instructors.

Tiffani Neal, a DeJean teacher and one of the field trip’s chaperons, called the experience “mind-blowing.”

“There are endless opportunities for students [in STEM],” Neal said. “Going from the classroom to the field trip, what they learn comes alive for them.”

Lovejoy said he hopes the experience will open the door for increased interest among youth in STEM fields, known as careers of the future.

“The 49ers and Chevron have collaborated on a new effective way to make STEM a little bit more approachable for kids,” he said.

In recent years, Chevron has launched numerous STEM-education initiatives nationally and Bay Area-wide, including teaming up with the Oakland A’s on a STEM Zone and “Science of the Game” workbook. The company also funded the nation’s largest fabrication lab at a public high school at Kennedy High in Richmond and routinely funds STEM-related projects requested by local teachers through DonorsChoose.org.

The company says it hopes to provide more education opportunities for Richmond area youth while building a workforce for the Refinery’s future.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.