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Blackhawks combine fun, learning at STEM Showcase

Players take ice at United Center, show students how speed, energy, angles are applied in hockey

CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks brought fun to learning Friday when they hosted the inaugural Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Showcase at United Center.

More than 8,000 students, primarily from Chicago’s public schools, watched several Blackhawks players demonstrate how speed, energy and angles are applied in hockey. All students have participated in Future Goals (a hockey scholar computer program powered by EVERFI) or the Blackhawks’ First Stride program at MB Ice Arena, their practice facility.

“As a former educator, I know how exciting it is for students to see what they’re learning in the classroom translate to real life and to have a new experience of visiting the United Center and seeing the players in action,” EVERFI senior schools manager Meaghan Joyce said. “It really brings that math, science and engineering to life for them.”

Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome participated in an angles seminar, in which he and forward Drake Caggiula banked pucks off the side boards and into miniature nets. He was also in the energy seminar, which demonstrated how the flex in a stick creates energy for the hardest slap shot.

“It’s just teaching them some new stuff. I think I learned some stuff, too,” Strome said. “Growing up, you don’t really realize it does help you in the end. A simple thing as a bank pass; you don’t think about that, but you learn angles somewhere so you know where to pass it. When you’re growing up, you’re learning different things: miles per hour, speed, bank passes, angles. It’s all built in your brain from a young age, so I guess it matters.”

Blackhawks community liaison and former NHL player Jamal Mayers, who hosted the event, said it was a terrific learning experience for the students, most of whom had never been to United Center.

“An opportunity to introduce the STEM program and apply it to the game of hockey allows the kids a break from their normal curriculum and to come out and experience what the United Center is all about,” Mayers said. “A lot of these kids, I would say 90 percent of them, have never been to the United Center. So what an amazing experience for them to interact and see the actual players out there performing things that happen in a game, that they can apply to their curriculum.”

The Blackhawks enjoyed bringing the classroom to the United Center.

“They had a good time out there,” Strome said. “They were waving the towels, screaming and enjoying it. Any time you can bring a smile to a kid’s face — I was in that position once too — it’s no problem for us to do.”