By Beyond Sport
The Sports Diplomacy Division of the US Department of State and the San Francisco 49ers Foundation are partnering to bring the 49ers EDU program to Fiji. 49ers EDU uses football to teach Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) to school-aged youth.
Earlier this year, Fiji’s Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Rosy Akbar publicly recognized the need to promote STEAM education in primary school education due to a shortage of skills in specific work areas across the island.
Leveraging the institutional knowledge of and programming components from 49ers EDU, Jesse Lovejoy, Director of 49ers EDU and 49ers Museum, has been tasked with bringing STEAM based lesson plans to Fiji. The initiative aims to provide both teachers and youth a better understanding of STEAM topics through sports such as American football, rugby and volleyball.
“It is an incredible honor and extremely humbling that the United States government would include 49ers EDU in its mission to leverage sports to make a positive impact on people abroad,” said Lovejoy.
“Our STEAM-focused learning approaches were designed to fluidly adapt to different audiences, regions and sports, so we’re eager to connect with Fijian children and teachers in a way that’s relevant, compelling and exciting for them.”
Joining Lovejoy as a US State Department Sports Envoy on the trip to Fiji is American indoor volleyball player and Olympic gold medalist Danielle Scott-Arruda.
Lovejoy will be working with the US Embassy in Fiji, as well as local primary, secondary and collegiate teachers to explore new approaches to including project-based learning and the engineering design process to their lesson plans using sports as the vehicle.
Through creativity and a cross-disciplinary approach, he aims to show teachers how STEAM can be integrated into virtually any lesson plan. Once developed with the Fijian educators, Lovejoy will travel to multiple local schools delivering these lesson plans to beta test them, refine them and support the teachers in their continued development and adoption.
“We believe that STEAM education and sports can go hand-in-hand as the lessons learned on the field or on the court translate to life success in the classroom, the work place and beyond,” said Matt McMahon of the State Department’s Sports Diplomacy division. “49ers EDU is out front in using sport to promote STEAM literacy and we are excited to partner with Jesse and the 49ers on this program.”
Lovejoy and the 49ers EDU team previously partnered with the Department of State last spring to deliver STEAM-based programming to teachers and students at Chobham Academy in London. That partnership came to life while 49ers EDU was in the United Kingdom to execute a collaboration with Chelsea FC.
Beyond Sport and the 49ers Foundation are Founding Members and Strategic Partners of the Sport & STEM Alliance, a global collaborative working together to devise ways to creatively use sport to ignite passion in STEM education, as well as partners on Beyond Innovation – focused on devising innovative solutions to the world’s pressing STEM workforce crisis.
The Alliance’s year-end gathering will take place during Beyond Innovation November 14-15, this year hosted by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation at the iconic Dodger Stadium. On Thursday, Alliance members will take part in an interactive working session at the TGR Learning Lab, hosted by the TGR Foundation – a Tiger Woods Charity.