For weeks, the halls of Franklin Middle School were filled with rumors about “the big surprise.” Finally, on Wednesday, more than 40 students were anxiously awaiting the announcement in their auditorium. It had already been a hectic week for these students, as celebrities and athletes from around the world descended on their hometown of Minneapolis for the big game.
A few of the students had been to Super Bowl Live the day before. And, in addition to participating in an augmented reality experience, they heard from Minnesota Viking linebacker Anthony Barr and tech executives about how technology and engineering are taking over the future of sports.
Finally, when Principal Cunningham came to the stage, an eager silence infiltrated the auditorium. One group at the top of the theater seemed the most excited – they heard a rumor earlier in the week that some of their favorite athletes might be stopping by the school. Some of the students were feverishly checking Twitter on their phones for a shred of evidence. Finally, they were introduced. As NFL star Victor Cruz and NBA all-star Karl-Anthony Towns came to the stage, there was thunderous applause and cheering.
Cruz and Towns took turns talking about the importance of finding different paths to enter the sports industry. They emphasized the importance of studying STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – in school in order to be prepared for these future careers. They answered all sorts of questions from, the middle school students, ranging from “What size shoe do you wear?” to “What exact tech jobs are in the sports industry?”
Cruz added, “You don't have to just be an athlete to make it a professional organization. You can be a trainer, or you can be someone who facilitates heart monitors for athletes to make sure that no one's heart rate is rising to where they'd be able to just pass out on the field.”
After the discussion, Cruz and Towns led the students to Verizon’s mobile Explorer Lab parked right outside Franklin Middle School. Despite the cold, the students walked to the Explorer Lab beaming with excitement, pride and attitude as they embarked on a virtual adventure to Mars.
This Verizon Innovative Learning Experience gave students a different perspective, one that could potentially change the course of their lives and put them on the path to a brighter future.
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