Here's the Scoop
Baseball is about fastballs and physics. About strikes and statistics. About wins and losses. Urban minority students continue to lose ground on math and science test scores, and minority adults make up 28.5% of the U.S. population but only 9% of the science and engineering workforce (according to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Institute of Medicine, 2011). The MIT Science of Baseball Program (MSBP) uses the relationship between baseball, science and math to make the academics engaging and relevant to at-risk middle school students and their families during the summer and throughout the school year.
To attract urban minorities to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the MIT School of Engineering developed the first run of MSBP in 2007. However, in 2013, the MIT School of Engineering refocused its outreach programs to attract only the highest academically achieving students. Realizing it could no longer run the baseball program but not willing to let it fold, the school’s administration identified several possible new homes for the program, including the Cambridge Science Festival. Familiar with the festival’s success engaging the general public and underserved communities and with the staff’s passion for baseball, the School of Engineering transferred the Science of Baseball Program to the festival along with the curriculum, equipment, and significant support to the festival team. This ensured a smooth transition and an opportunity to allow the camp to grow in size, scope and collaborations with other organizations.
The program will feature an integrated, experiential curriculum, including both academic and athletic components that take advantage of the natural connections between the sport and various academic topics. Participating students will learn to use a number of statistical operations and physics problem-solving skills that will be used throughout the month.
Tracking the path to find the ideal bat swing during a strobe light activity in MIT's Edgerton Center.
In addition to improving their STEM and baseball skills, the program makes students aware of the many baseball-related careers available to them if they excel in math and science. It also helps them to feel comfortable on a college campus, something that many urban teens who’ve never had a family member attend college before struggle to overcome. By knowing their way around the MIT campus by the end of the month-long program, students say they can picture themselves going to college.
The MIT Science of Baseball Program recruits students through the Boston and Cambridge public schools, city little leagues and community centers, and through street outreach workers. Students and their families sign on for the four-week summer program, and are thrilled to learn that they are automatically members of the MIT Hot Stove Club. The club provides monthly pizza and tutoring nights throughout the school year with the MIT baseball team and the summer program instructors, keeping the kids connected to role models and tutors year round.
In partnership with families, schools, little league clubs, and other community-based organizations, MSBP strives to spark a passion for science in students by approaching them through a sport they love, baseball. We believe we can foster motivation and achievement in mathematics and science for our middle school student participants. The program is offered free of charge to participants through the generous support of our sponsors and MIT.