This NFL Player Wants to Get More Kids into STEM

Getting kids interested in math and science can be a tough thing to do in classrooms. The statistics are sobering. According to data from the National Math + Science Initiative, just 44% of high school graduates are ready for college level math, while 36% are ready for college level science.

That’s why Texas Instruments (TI) (NASDAQ:TXN) has created a series of programs and curriculum materials to promote STEM education by inserting the lessons into their daily lives and attaching it to what they like.

“The goal is to have see kids see basic math principles all around them. We want them to pursue more advanced mathematics in middle and high school,” Peter Balyta, President of Texas Instruments Education Technology tells

TI has rolled out multiple programs like the STEM Behind Hollywood and have an ongoing partnership with NASA to engage young students. The STEM Behind Hollywood was the first program that they had and it followed the zombie movie craze. Balyta describes how students were shown the algorithmic tools that the Centers for Disease Control uses for forecasting. What can gets students engaged in math and science, according to Balyta, is clustering the lessons around topics that appeal to varying student interests.

Next up for TI is the STEM Behind Cooking, and Baltya says that they have a number of people lined up to potentially serve as the spokesperson.

Baltya says that the programs have reached ten times more students than he thought it would. By providing curriculum material, TI reached 60,000 teachers in 2015. 60,000 teachers translates to having access to millions of students that not only use TI’s curriculum, but also use the brand’s calculators. Last year, TI welcomed 5 million new calculator users.

Currently, TI is highlighting the STEM Behind Sports, a program that shows kids how STEM concepts exist in their favorite sports. For example, TI provides a lesson in how kicking a football through a field goal follows geometric lessons.

To enhance this program, TI has enlisted Baltimore Ravens guard John Urschel to get kids excited about math. Urschel holds both undergraduate and master’s degrees in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing a PhD in mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“As pro players, we have a platform. Mine is to try and inspire kids in math and science,” Urschel tels

He also wants to show kids that you can excel in school and play sports at the same time like he’s doing. “You can be good at athletics and academics, but know what’s most important to you and do the most important things first,” he says.

Urschel has met with students in Baltimore and gone through football related lessons with them, like the perfect angle for a football kick. “It’s really enjoyable to see how much they really took to seeing the math they’ve learned,” he says.

Urschel hopes that after his football career he can teach and do research.