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Action Science

Action Science
Relevant Teaching and Active Learning

May 2014 | 144 pages | Corwin

Put student engagement on the fast-track

Think action sports like skateboarding and BMX have nothing to do with physical science? Think again, especially as they relate to fundamental physics concepts like motion, force, and simple machines—not to mention the problem solving required. What’s more, because kids will want to, observing action sports is a perfect vehicle for promoting self-directed and collaborative learning . . . with Action Science as your driver’s manual.

Through a combination of book and video, Bill Robertson provides all the materials you’ll need to get started, with the NGSS very much in full view. Inside and outside, you’ll find:

  • Detailed instructional methods on momentum, center of gravity, inertia, and centrifugal and centripetal forces
  • Hands-on classroom activities and experiments, including some utilizing common household materials
  • Captivating video via QR codes of top professional and amateur extreme sports athletes demonstrating authentic, high-flying maneuvers

Robertson, an associate professor in science and technology education at the University of Texas at El Paso--and an avid skateboarder—has extensively piloted the Action Science program. It works!

“This is an outstanding resource for any middle school science teacher trying to engage unmotivated students or implement problem-based learning strategies in a way that is exciting and meaningful!”
--Melissa Miller, Middle School Science Teacher
Lynch Middle School
Farmington, AR 

Check out Action Science featured on Edutopia! 

About the Author
1. What Is Action Science?
2. Constructivism and the Classroom Teacher
3. Making Science Relevant in the Middle Grades
4. Linking Pedagogy and Science Content in Practice
5. Using the 5 Es in Action Science
6. Unlocking Resources for Active Learning
7. Action Science and the Future
8. Action Science Classroom Activities
Activity 1: Flatland BMX and the Center of Gravity

Activity 2: Thrust and Drag on a Cushion of Air

Activity 3: Finding a Point of Reference

Activity 4: Acceleration Is Velocity in Motion

Activity 5: Force Makes a Mass Move

Activity 6: Action Reaction

Activity 7: Skateboards Have Levers and Fulcrums

Activity 8: Around the World With Wheels and Axles


"In Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning, the author does a superb job of showing how to make learning relevant for today’s typical middle school student through the application of real world connections that are meaningful to the student.  The examples and resources provided make this an outstanding resource for any middle school science teacher looking for ways to engage unmotivated students or who are implementing problem based learning strategies in a way that is exciting and meaningful!"

Melissa Miller, Middle School Science Teacher
Lynch Middle School, Farmington, AR

"The book is unique, in that it offers a look at physics through a non-traditional lens – through the world of skateboarding and bmx bike riding.  I especially like the use of the 5E learning cycle within the lesson presentation." 

Susanne L Hokkanen, 7th Grade Science Teacher
Colin Powell Middle School, Matteson, IL

"Rarely are students envisioned as scientists, mathematicians, or engineers—especially while at play. However, much of the fundamental knowledge associated with these fields can be linked to student experiences in action sports such as skateboarding. This linkage holds untapped potential that can prove useful in increasing student understanding of Next Generation Science Standards.

Well aware of this linkage, Dr. William H. Robertson promotes learning of physical and mathematical principles through an innovative medium that students can absolutely relate to: Action Science. Through live action sports demonstrations, action sports video clips, and unique classroom learning activities, Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning will have students genuinely captivated. Students will be able to increase their physical and mathematical understandings through relation to a real life context via personal experiences on their own skateboard, bicycle, rollerblades, or scooter.

Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning promotes educational methods students are sure to relate to and learn from. It will prove a valuable tool for educators seeking to increase student engagement and further student understanding of important physical and mathematical principles."

Dr. S. Christian Benker, Assistant Professor of Geoscience
Arizona Western College

"Bill Robertson and I go back many years. Throughout all of those years, I have always been impressed with the way he approaches science education: Instead of providing content in the abstract, or in unrelatable tables and graphs, he speaks in the vernacular of the students. By combining the topics that kids can relate to, specifically skateboarding and BMX biking, the difficult becomes understandable, the abstract concrete!

Not many academicians “practice what they preach,” but that is exactly what Bill does with Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning. The thousands and thousands of students that he has entertained over the years with his Ollies, Backside 180s, and Heel Flips have no idea that the guy in the jeans and sport helmet,  knee pads, and wrist guards is Bill Robertson, Ph.D. They only know that by the time he leaves the room, they have a better understanding of Newtonian Physics because Dr. Skateboard was in the house.

I cannot recommend Action Science: Relevant Teaching and Active Learning more highly. Like everything he does, Bill Robertson has made physics relatable, informative, and most importantly, fun."

Tim Holt, Director, Instructional Technology
El Paso ISD

"As a working scientist, I know that scientific knowledge is constructed by experimenting and interacting with the world. Concepts can then be built up from that direct experience. Too often in science education this is forgotten and concepts are presented first at the expense of the initial direct experience that drives scientific curiosity. That’s not true to science and does not lead to real knowledge. Bill Robertson (Dr. Skateboard) is staying true to science and to building deep, long lasting knowledge. Another way of saying that is that Bill is keeping science education real. Add the action element to the mix and what you get is just plain rad from any angle you look at it."

Adrian Lenardic, Professor of Geophysics and Planetary Science
Rice University, Houston, TX

"Robertson (aka Dr. Skateboard) blends the fun of skateboarding and BMX with relevant physical science concepts. His unique approach is my preferred method of teaching. This is exactly what my students are looking for!"

Ashlie B. Smith, 8th Grade Physical Science Teacher
Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls, Bloomfield Hills, MI

"The book is unique in that it offers a look at physics through a non-traditional lens – through the world of skateboarding and BMX bike riding.  I especially like the use of the 5E learning cycle within the lesson presentation."

Susanne L Hokkanen, 7th grade science teacher
Colin Powell Middle School, Matteson, IL

"Audiences of all ages, genders, and ethnicities naturally gravitate to Bill's passion for learning and teaching with his use of Action Science. Students who are naturally active and inquisitive are immediately engaged in Bill's high-energy and skilled BMX biking and skateboarding presentations. Bill utilizes his dynamic skills and the engagement of his learners to enable the students to understand challenging scientific principles. Bill facilitates students’ comprehension of scientific concepts by demonstrating them in a relevant, meaningful, and stimulating way."

Jon Patry, Middle School Teacher
Calgary Board of Education, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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ISBN: 9781452256566

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