Next time your kid asks 'What's the point of school?' Dr. Skateboard has the answer.
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Teachers in El Paso, Texas, have a secret weapon. His name is Dr. Skateboard.

In a perfect world, the morning school bell would ring and every child would snap to attention, ready and enthusiastic to learn. But of course, nothing is perfect.

In reality, kids come with all styles and levels of enthusiasm for learning — only a few of which are actually to sit down and pay attention to the lesson.


More and more, researchers are finding that interactive lessons are the way to go when it comes to capturing the attention of an entire classroom of children. That's why teachers call up Bill Robertson — or, as the kids call him, Dr. Skateboard.

"I started skateboarding when I was 13," says Robertson, whose title stems from the fact that he does, in fact, have five academic degrees, one of which is a doctorate in education. "I was a high school and middle school teacher for a little while, and I started thinking about ways I could make my class more engaging," he says. "Any time I brought in my skateboard, kids got more interested."

Just like that, Dr. Skateboard was born.

All photos courtesy of Dr. Skateboard, used with permission.

Not only is Robertson now a professor, but he also skates around the world teaching kids (and adults!) lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math.

According to Robertson, skateboarding is the perfect vehicle for lessons in STEM because it incorporates so many of the forces that act on most things.

"The balance of those forces is how you make things fly," he says. When kids pile into the auditorium to watch Robertson skate, they no longer have to imagine their physics problems — they get to see them in action. "Whether it’s an airplane or a skateboarder doing an ollie, you can demonstrate those principles through skateboarding."

So, as Robertson soars into the air, he explains exactly how forces like gravity, momentum, and lift help him takeoff and land safely on the ground — while also putting on a show.

But lessons aren't all about science. Robertson also carries an important message about engaging in learning itself.

Especially to kids with other passions (like skateboarding), school can seem like a chore that keeps them from doing what they really want to do. "By bringing Dr. Skateboard together, I give kids the idea that you can have activities and pursue your education," he says. Robertson works to show kids with all sorts of interests how to become lifelong learners by finding the academic concepts that lie hidden in activities that take place outside the classroom.

"You just try to present content in ways people may not have thought about it," he says. "Whether you’re skateboarding or doing some other kind of activity you really enjoy, it’s a matter of breaking those activities down to see where the concepts lie." For a musician, that could be the physics of sound. For an artist, the chemistry of color.

He also teaches kids about work, showing them that whether it's skating, school, or something different, it takes the same skills to be good at anything.

As a skateboarding doctor, he's uniquely positioned to convince kids that, truly, athletics and academics aren't all that different. Everything takes hard effort.

"Persistence, practice, patience, creativity, tenacity, goal-setting — they’re also the same things you do in your education," he says. "So if you have success in something you like, you can bring that into your education."

His programs speak to adults, too — parents and teachers who may be tempted to write off kids who don’t seem interested in learning. "By being a doctor, I can appeal to teachers and parents and decision makers and say don’t marginalize kids who are into these activities. Because they may have the attributes to become a Ph.D."

Though Dr. Skateboard makes appearances around the world, parents and teachers can learn from his methods without seeing him in person.

Robertson encourages adults to take their own natural interests and talents and use them to show kids how education is in everything — no matter how unconventional it may seem.

But, he warns, the key is not to feign interest in something that even you think is boring.

"Kids especially can tell when you’re being real," he says. "They may or may not be into what you’re doing but they can respect that authenticity."

So if you hate billiards, don't try to teach geometric angles over a pool table. But if you're teaching something you love, just like Dr. Skateboard, you might just end up passing that passion along.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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