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“StatSquad” High Schoolers to Learn STEM Skills Via Sports Analytics

Prof. Tim Chartier works with students in the library
Prof. Tim Chartier works with students in the library.

"StatSquad," a new Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) program to teach data analytics through high school sports, has a strong Davidson College influence.

Four Davidson students under the direction of Associate Professor Tim Chartier developed curriculum for Stat Squads in pilot high schools during the fall semester 2014. Chartier, a mathematician nationally recognized for expertise in basketball "bracketology" and other sports-based analytics, will continue to work with the program during his coming sabbatical year as it is implemented this spring season in five CMS high schools. It will eventually be offered in all 19 CMS high schools, and has been approved in other school districts as well-Wake County N.C., Greenville County (S.C.) and Fort Mill (S.C.).

StatSquad is being funded by OrthoCarolina and developed by Charlotte-based National Amateur Sports (NAS), a company specializing in information technology management and marketing support for school districts' athletic programs. It is designed to provide an after-school learning opportunity for high school students to study the data analytics of various sports. Students collect, input, edit and analyze athletic program data, and share their findings with athletic administrators and coaches to potentially be used as part of their game strategy.

The experience of the four Davidson students last fall has given Chartier and NAS a start in developing the program in various sports. Ross Kruse '17 was involved with football, Sarah Klett '15 was involved with volleyball, Alex Feliciano '15 was involved with men's soccer, and Eric Hart was involved with women's soccer. Chartier said NAS is also interested in developing data analytics for wrestling and swimming competitions.

Chartier's continuing involvement will include development of resources to instruct teachers and students in data analytics, development of a program handbook, and creation of a workshop to train other college professors in sports analytics.

Real-World Applications

CMS athletic director Susan Doran commented, "StatSquad expands mathematical education outside the classroom to real world scenarios and provides our students with first-hand experience in how to collect data and make informed decisions."

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, over the past decade STEM jobs have grown at a rate three times faster than non-STEM jobs. Additionally, STEM jobs are expected to grow at nearly double the rate of other occupations over the next 10 years. STEM workers also earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts.

The launch of StatSquad marks a unique partnership between the Athletic Department and Career and Technical Education (CTE) within CMS. CTE is responsible for helping students gain academic and technical skills to prepare them for high-skill, high-wage or high-demand occupations.

"For many of us, sports and sports statistics are part of our everyday lives. It's something we get excited about and it's a shared cultural passion," said Davidson alumnus Dan Murrey, CEO of OrthoCarolina. "It's imperative that we seek out unique ways to encourage the next generation of students to consider STEM subjects that can lead them to careers in medicine, technology or a number of other fields. StatSquad is a pioneer program that will set a great example."