Helping Elementary and Middle Schools Volleyball through STEM

By John Kessel | Oct. 03, 2016, 1:55 p.m. (ET)

Helping our Elementary & Middle Schools in Volleyball Through STEM

You know how PE teachers walk into nearly any gym in our nation and see the six hoops up around the court; then they enter the storage room to fight their way past the racks of two dozen basketballs, to find the one volleyball; then they dig around to find the one net and begin the half-hour or more process to set it up – even bleeding from the frayed cable at times?

They probably don’t even take time to get the baskets out of the way and just deal with them when they get in the way. Then the students have to experience 12-on-12 volleyball, rarely touching the ball, just standing around as others play one-hit volley-tennis over the net.

There is a way to make volleyball a success in school for kids 14-and-under. USA Volleyball promotes several solutions to this gap between joyful and boring volleyball (best seen in this clip).

We recently designed a STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) project with the Huddle Group. With this STEM kit, each middle or elementary school gets 18 volleyballs, a radar gun and long “net” system. The eight lessons can first be done for volleyball, then redone at no extra cost for sitting volleyball, which is a fun game that can be played by all.  I think our 2016 Paralympic gold-medal winning U.S. Women’s Sitting Team would like that, as well as our U.S. Men’s Sitting Team. 

The lessons include:

Court and Mathematics

Using Technology

Serving and Science

Scientific Method

Volleyball Properties

Calculating Total Contact Time

Optimal Serve Speed

Engineering Design Process

     

Use the STEM grant monies most schools have available and order this kit for your local school (easy to order at stemsports.com/volleyball). Allow your boys and girls to discover the science and the fun in volleyball. 

When done, the school’s PE teacher/program, which may have been struggling fiscally obtain new equipment, keeps the tools to make volleyball the most popular activity in the school. No longer will kids stand in long lines to hit a ball or watch the one ball fly over the net between two huge groups. They will now be able to borrow a ball or two for recess, and even if there is no net set up, the kids who want to learn can play the “Loser Becomes the Net” game – no matter if only three kids want to play.

Additionally, with the rope-on-the-wall “standard” that all schools can install (seen here: teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Video/2014/10/17/Maximum-Contact-Net-System--USAV-SportKit), the physical education teacher will be able to use the same system for teaching badminton, tennis, pickleball and sitting volleyball. In all cases, use small-sided games to keep the kids active!

The beach/outdoor easy net setup can be seen here: teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Video/2015/01/09/Beach-Maximum-Contact-Net-System

Let your PE teachers know about the other free materials USA Volleyball provides to turn this lifetime-sport into an activity all youth will love to play – like the MiniVolley book (including a “Quick Start” page to get going, then tons of other info, scoring, games, warmups/cooldowns and fun!), lesson plans, skill and drill videos and so much more that can be found here: teamusa.org/usa-volleyball/grassroots/coaches/i-am-a-new-coach

This project is designed to fit the USOC American Development Model (ADM), which is something all club directors, coaches and parents should understand. You can read more about it here: teamusa.org/About-the-USOC/Athlete-Development/American-Development-Model

For more information on this project, contact mvp@usav.org. Thanks again for helping us all grow the game together.