Mohawks, Tattoos, Pierced Body Parts, Yet Excited About Sports and STEM

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIAugust 7, 2009

Objectives of the article

1. To assess a selected group of young people's opinions to determine an interest in articles on "Sports and STEM" (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

2. To make a cursory determination of young people's desire to have tattoos and of their knowledge of professional athletes with tattoos. Mohawks, tattoos, and body piercing are some symbols of the new generation in 2009.

3. To demonstrate the use of simiple statistics to describe what people are thinking, rather than to make assumptions that are not well-founded.

The article:

His arms are like artwork. He said, "My 84-year old grandmother doesn't like them." The tattoos, that is. He has been snowboarding since he was three years old.

There could easily be a generation gap between the 2009 students and me, or, maybe, you. I surveyed them to see how they think.

My goal this summer is to awaken their awareness of the use of math and other subjects in the world of sports. First, however, I need to know what they are thinking.

To get their attention, I mentioned that those who have the "power to define ideas" (and write about them) tend to rise to the top of a profession or sport.

If you, as a sportsman, know what you do and how you do it (defining you moves, motion, mannerisms) you, then, know how to change what you do to optimize the outcome you desire.

Granted, I was talking to young people with mohawk haircuts, pierced noses, lips and tongues, and fractal-type designs tattooed on their bodies.

Next, I surveyed 17 students on August 7, 2009. The question:

"Of the four sports in this survey, which one is your favorite?"

Basketball     Football    Soccer     Volleyball

4                4              3            6

To demonstrate the power of the language of mathematics which includes verbal, numerical, graphical and symbolic representations, I transformed the question into data.

Then I transformed their data on their favorite sport to a pie chart.

From the pie chart, I was able to make the survey results visual.

The flow chart is simple:

verbal (question)->numbers (tally of data)->pie chart (visual)->symbolic ->analysis

Did I make my point to these tattooed, pierced and creatively shaven students?

Only time will tell. At least we must try to go where they are.

We must inspire them to see that with their talent and toys (Wii, iPod, iPhone, and Netbook) they have a lot of power in their hands. We hope that in the future they will get more joy out of sports when they learn all that it takes to perfect a given sport.

We must see deeper than the messages on their bodies. They must see the deeper messages in their sports. In the group today, 23.5 percent favored basketball; 23.5 percent favored football; 18 percent favored soccer; and 35 percent favored volleyball.

All 17 of the respondents were eager to participate in the survey. They did a LOL when I asked them to name pro players with tattoos. They responded: Allen Iverson (former Detroit Pistons); Dennis Rodman (former Chicago Bulls); Chris Anderson (Denver Nuggets); and Mike Tyson (former World Heavy Weight Champion).

Only a few professional athletes were mentioned, although the respondents knew of many others.

"That's all folks," as they would say in Looney Tunes!

See the chart of Favorite Sport

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