Skateboard Pioneer Uses Science and Math to Give His Boards “Pop” on The Futures Channel.
Burbank, CA February 7, 2007: “I have spent my life trying to make skateboards last a ridiculously long time,” says Tim Piumarta, a pioneering designer from Santa Cruz Skateboards and the subject of a new micro-documentary released this week on The Futures Channel.
Teachers throughout the country use Futures Channel Movies in their classrooms because they show real world applications of science and mathematics. Since 1999, The Futures Channel has been providing teachers with videos they can use to answer that inevitable question from students: “When will I ever use this?”
In this short movie, now showing on thefutureschannel.com, Piumarta describes how he uses math and science to design, build and test skateboards. He says that one machine he developed is the only machine in the world which measures “pop.” It’s pop, he explains, that lets you do “all the tricks you want to do.”
“It’s really great to know that students are watching this. It may inspire some students to go, ‘Well, if math can be a part of skateboarding, I have no problem with math,’” says Piumarta, a skateboarder himself as well as the head of Research and Development for NHS, Inc., maker of Santa Cruz Skateboards and Independent Trucks.
Piumarta started making skateboards in 1979. In the six-minute movie, he describes in detail how he uses decimals and measurement and applies fractions to his engineering work.
“The Futures Channel team pioneered the creation and delivery of short, broadcast-quality video clips and ‘micro-documentaries’ which teachers can use to bring context and life to their lessons and engage their students,” explains Eric Robinson, Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College, NY, “This is a new direction for educational media, one that fits the way that teachers actually teach.”
“As a classroom application, I would want to quickly discuss the technical aspects of the sport and of the skateboard,” said one high school math teacher who screened the show this past week. “Then, I would want to replay the movie pointing out the emphasis on precision measurements, structural design, and strength testing of the product. This movie was a very nice, quick-paced and packed production with great shots and editing.”
Another teacher also found the video useful but sees its applicability to younger students as well. “I teach 6th grade math,” she said. “ I liked the video and I think my students would too. Skateboarding is something my students enjoy. I would use this to tie in with any type of measurement lesson.”
Futures Channel Movies feature a wide range of professionals from designers of sportswear to designers of spacecraft.
“We take viewers to places they haven’t been. We show them jobs they probably don’t know exist. And we show them fascinating people in those jobs that they would not otherwise meet,” says Steve Heard, Executive Producer and three-time recipient of the George Foster Peabody Award for his educational productions.
This is not the first time Heard has worked with Tim Piumarta. When Heard was producing the PBS television series FUTURES with Jaime Escalante, the renowned East Los Angeles calculus teacher, Piumarta appeared in one of the most popular episodes and was seen by millions of students in math classes across the country.
“If you consider what we do in engineering as basically experimental science, students who are exposed to science in this way may continue on,” Piumarta said. “They may not continue on in skateboarding, but they might continue on in other scientific fields.”