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Kids learning about STEM at United Skates of America skating rink in Seaford

At United Skates of America in Seaford, groups

At United Skates of America in Seaford, groups of kids are visiting the rink this school year to learn how science, technology, engineering and math concepts apply to roller skating, regional sales manager Lauren Fink says. Credit: Newsday / Beth Whitehouse

When 7-year-old Daniella Saadat visited the United Skates of America roller skating rink in Seaford recently, it wasn’t just to lace up some skates — she was first tasked with designing a better pair.

“You’re all going to be engineers today,” STEM educator Richard Miller had told Daniella and the entire second grade from Saddle Rock Elementary School in Great Neck. “How do I make a product safer? How do I make it faster? Cooler looking?”

Daniella was one of the eager students whose hands shot up when Miller asked the kids to share their design ideas. “I used a booster that makes it go faster, and headlights,” Daniella explained, showing her drawing with flames shooting out the back of the skates. “So if you have to go somewhere in a rush, you could just push a button and go faster. If you have to go somewhere at night, you can just push a button and they will light up.”

The design challenge was part of a science field trip — 65 groups are visiting the rink this school year for lessons that apply science, technology, engineering and math concepts to roller skating, says regional sales manager Lauren Fink.

United Skates also offers the lessons to scouts, summer camps and other organizations. The cost is between $14 and $20 a child, depending on whether lunch of pizza and drinks is included, Fink says.

KINDERGARTEN THOUGH HIGH SCHOOL

The Motion and Skate Design program also charges students with building and testing their own miniature zip lines, identifying photos of Stem Superstars such as physicist Stephen Hawking, computer entrepreneur Steve Jobs and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, and learning terms such as velocity and momentum. After a one-hour lesson, the students get to roller skate for two hours with their classmates.

“It was fun. We learned about friction,” says Jhostin Rodriguez, 8, of Great Neck. And there was a bonus for Jhostin: Though he’s been ice skating, this was his first experience on roller skates, he says.

Lessons can be geared to kindergarten through high school. Teachers can choose from various programs, which include such topics as Formulas, Fractions and Fun: The Relationship Between Math and Roller Skating; Newton’s Laws of Motion; and Super Sound! Acoustics & Rink Design.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

In Formulas, Fractions and Fun, for instance, older students use statistics and averages to determine how many pairs of each size skate a roller rink should have available for customers.

“We need a random sample,” STEM educator Miller tells seventh-graders at a recent Formulas, Fractions and Fun event. “If I pick this table, what’s the problem?” he asks the group, indicating a table of nine boys.

Hands shoot up. “They’re all boys.” “They’re all the same size.” Miller tosses trinkets or candy to kids who answer correctly. “Do you think I have a large enough sample with just nine kids?” he asks them. “I think if I would like to order skates, I would like to use a larger sample.”

TRANSFERABLE CONCEPTS

Teachers and parents say they are impressed with how the rink incorporates skating into the lessons.

“I wanted kids to see that everything we learn in the classroom, it’s all transferable,” says Daniel Salerno, a sixth-grade teacher at Floral Park-Bellrose School, which visited the rink earlier this school year. “Everything we do can be applied to the outside world.”

Josh Halpert of Great Neck, who chaperoned the Saddle Rock Elementary field trip with his daughter Lila, 7, calls the program “awesome.”

“I wish they had stuff like this when I was a kid. I don’t remember learning about inertia ever, what’s the cause of motion,” he says. “I was surprised how many kids knew those terms.”

WANT AN EVENT?

To schedule a STEM field trip to United Skates of America, call Jennifer Simonetti, sales and events manager, at 516-795-5474.

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