Sport and science don’t always go hand in hand, but the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy wants to change that, combining physical activity with physics to help teach primary school students golf and tennis.
Set in the picturesque hills in Sai Kung, the training academy’s workshops comprise activities geared towards experimentation and enquiry to demonstrate the physics behind sport.
On July 7, Primary Two through Five students from nine different Sai Kung schools were invited to take part in a golf workshop, where they learned that achieving the perfect swing requires brains as well as muscle.
In an activity which explored the concepts of potential energy and kinetic energy, students were asked to hit a ball using a pendulum and experiment with different angles and heights in order to make their ball fly the farthest — a useful skill when it comes to getting a hole-in-one.
Another activity tested the outcomes of objects with different masses colliding with each other. It was designed to illustrate Newton’s second law of motion, which states that the momentum of an object is directly proportional to the force applied to it.
These activities went down well with the young participants. Sai Kung Sung Tsun Catholic School student Owen told Young Post that the Newton experiment taught him the concept of momentum and how to use it to its fullest potential.
Primary Five student William, meanwhile, took some useful golfing tips away from the pendulum experiment.
“The activity taught me how to hit the ball far and wide,” he said.
The HKGTA’s Golf Director, Billy Martin, told Young Post that he aims to make learning interactive and creative, taking cues from Walt Disney.
“I’m a big fan of Disney and his ideals; he sought to ‘captivate people’s hearts and minds’,” said Martin. “Through that, children can learn at their own pace, and indulge in what they enjoy.”
Martin firmly believes in the educational value of play.
“We allow the children to do the things they enjoy to spark their interest, and this allows them to learn more effectively. But most importantly, we want them to just be themselves. Each child’s individuality is their biggest asset.”
The HKGTA hopes to bridge the gap between sport and academic study, particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
“We want to foster the connection between sports and STEM skills. We believe that education should be all-encompassing,” said Andy Chu, Manager for Sports Development and Events. He added that by combining areas of study, students will be able to hone different sets of skills at once.
“We strongly believe that [the courses] will either translate into either better science or sports ability, and this will greatly enrich the later life of the child.”
The academy hopes its full courses, which begin in September, will allow for more in-depth exploration into the STEM fields.
“We will be able to make concepts which are beyond the academic level of the students very easy to understand” explained one of the instructors from the event. “ For example, we could explain fluid mechanics in a whole new way using a tennis ball’s trajectory combined with the fuzzy surface of the ball itself.”
Chu says the academy plans to follow up the golf workshop with a tennis one.
“We will host a tennis STEM workshop in September to get even more schools involved. A scholarship plan has also been drawn up, and this will allow us to reach students from all backgrounds, and fully realise our goal of reforming education.”