The Tulsa Youth Rowing Association logo—a stylized "Tulsa gROW"— next to a smaller hexagon within which is an icon showing three people with hands on each other's shoulders, representing the Collaborator Spotlight.

Collaborator Spotlight: Teaching the Science of Rowing with the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association

LabXchange is collaborating with the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association (TYRA) to bring their educational content to our platform!

Through their gROW Tulsa RowingSTEM Program, TYRA encourages young learners to explore the science behind the sport of rowing, while at the same time learning about physical fitness, teamwork, and critical thinking. In this interview, Neil Bergenroth, Director of Outreach and Advancement at TYRA, shares more about the organization's efforts in promoting STEM education and rowing among students.

What does your organization do?

The Tulsa Youth Rowing Association (TYRA) focuses on providing comprehensive rowing training and racing opportunities for young men and women. The association's core mission is to foster teamwork, dedication, and respect among its participants, all within a supportive and competitive environment. TYRA offers a range of programs that cater to different age groups and skill levels:

  1. Training and Racing Opportunities: TYRA provides training in rowing techniques, with an emphasis on proper form and safety. This training culminates in opportunities for young rowers to participate in races against other junior crews, both at regional and national levels. This competitive aspect is central to TYRA’s mission, aiming to establish the association as a nationally competitive rowing program.
  2. Programs for Various Age Groups: The association is inclusive, welcoming athletes aged 13-18. The aim is to teach the fundamentals of rowing to young athletes and help them grow in the sport.
  3. Emphasis on Teamwork and Personal Development: TYRA stresses the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and commitment in every practice and race. The environment created by TYRA encourages young athletes to work together as a team, promoting personal growth and development in a team setting.

Overall, the Tulsa Youth Rowing Association offers a comprehensive and inclusive environment for young athletes to learn, train, and compete in the sport of rowing, with a strong emphasis on personal and team development.

Rowing instructor Neil Bergenroth teaches rowing at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, USA.
Neil Bergenroth teaches a group of students in the RowingSTEM program at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas, USA.

What's one fun fact that LabXchange users should know about your organization?

In 2013, we organized a trip to compete in the United Kingdom and row at the international event Henley Royal Regatta. We were the first rowing club from the state of Oklahoma to compete at this prestigious event.

Which content from the RowingSTEM program are you most proud of?

We feel that the content relating to time and distance graphs forms a learning experience where students can learn important concepts relating to speed and how this is represented on a graph. It’s one thing to be able to draw a graph from data points, it’s another competency to read the graph and interpret the data in a way that makes the information provided meaningful in the real world.

Another excellent example of applied science is the use of the force curve on the rowing machine. A new force curve is generated every stroke and represents the force applied on the rowing handle per unit time during each time a rower drives and does work on the rowing machine or in the boat. The curve presents an opportunity to understand important topics such as momentum change, impulse and has a great deal of coaching application in terms of effective force application when moving a boat.

Rowing coach Neil Bergenroth demonstrates the correct form on a rowing machine while a group of adult learners follow along on their own machines, with other learners waiting and observing in the background. They are all smiling and enjoying the experience.
RowingSTEM being taught at the Native American STEM Competition at the University of Tulsa in November 2023.

How can learners and educators best use your content?

The most applicable way to use the content would be for schools and rowing clubs that want to include a RowingSTEM component in their program. However, many of the competencies that we build into our rowing “experiments” are universal. A helpful approach would be for educators that are not in the rowing space would examine the work we have put together and then apply the concepts to their own domain and passions. The concept of using a sport as a vehicle for the development of STEM competencies and skills is a fertile area, which we are working to be pioneers in.

What motivates you to continue your work in science education?

We are excited to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum that occupies a niche in STEM that has not be previously used in the educational setting. Rowing is a life-changing experience, providing opportunities for the development of confidence and efficacy in young people. TYRAs purpose is to keep human development as the core of everything we do. It is important that we develop high performing athletes. However, it is also equally—if not more—important that our learning environments result in well-rounded people who are critical-thinkers, leaders and can transfer all they have learned to other domains. After all, it is the organic whole of a person that has the power to create impact in the world, hence, the focus on interdisciplinary learning experiences.

Finally, what's your favorite science joke?

I like to tell Chemistry jokes in class, but I don’t typically get a good “reaction”!

Written by
LabXchange team

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