On Thursday, May 21, the San Francisco 49ers announced an expansion of the organization’s Digital Playbook to support online learning opportunities to students during the coronavirus pandemic. The Digital Playbook is an interactive multimedia interface designed to provide K-8 students with a variety of learning activities centered around the game of football. Overall, the platform is focused on a wide spectrum of STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math).

Historically, the 49ers have used the standard version of this playbook as part of the annual EDU STEAM field trip, where more than 60,000 Bay Area students and teachers are brought to Levi’s Stadium to participate in live lessons. The Digital Playbook is a revamped virtual variant to accommodate at-home learning during the pandemic.

“49ers EDU is committed now more than ever to our mission of bringing STEAM concepts to life using the game of football to educate, inspire and empower students, teachers and their families,” said 49ers EDU Director Jesse Lovejoy in a press release. “With teachers having to alter their curriculum and so many parents taking on the responsibility of teaching, we wanted to provide a playbook to help support everyone through this new era of at-home learning in a fun and creative way.”

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Inside the Digital Playbook

Overall, the Digital Playbook exists as a full spectrum STEAM experiential learning platform and each component transforms a different component of the sport into a unique lesson. For example, the Goal Line Mathematics section provides students with a series of snapshots of Levi’s Stadium and prompts students to pinpoint various geometric shapes and angles within the designs.

IMAGE: San Francisco 49ers

The alliterative Forces of Football Flight section acts as a crash course in aerodynamics. Focusing on the flight path of a football, illustrations explain how the forces of thrust, drag, gravity, and lift act on the object’s shape to affect the trajectory. In the Football Physics lessons, a series of on-field examples are used to explain interactions between matter and energy during gameplay such as tackling or kickoff.

Design and literacy

There’s also an equipment design challenge to help students sharpen their artistic and design skills. This section presents students with a set of standard football equipment (cleats, shoulder pads, gloves, and a helmet) and provides space for students to come up with their own designs and illustrations.

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The Tackling Literacy section offers a twist on the standard reading comprehension test focusing on a short narrative about one young player’s preparation for a chance to play in the “Big Game.” Once the students have finished the short reading assignment, they are prompted to answer a series of questions about the story.

One of the more beautifully simplistic and challenging components is a word scramble where students are tasked with using the words “Forty” and “Niners” to create as many new words as possible.

IMAGE: San Francisco 49ers