Meet Dr. Skateboard: Using ‘Action Science’ to make education accessible to students

Last Updated on October 08, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Originally published December 08, 2016

By Daniel Perez

UTEP Communications

Meet William H. “Dr. Skateboard” Robertson, a professor of science and technology education who has produced more than 70 educational science videos targeting K-12 educators and university teacher educators. Through “Physics of Skateboarding” demonstrations, he showcases physics and mathematics concepts in unique ways and demonstrates that service within the community can be tied closely to teaching and learning.

Dr. William H. Robertson, Professor of Science and Technology Education
Dr. William H. Robertson, Professor of Science and Technology Education


William H. Robertson, Ph.D., aka “Dr. Skateboard”

Professor of Science and Technology Education


Division of STEM Education, Teacher Education Department, College of Education

What do you teach?

As a tenured professor at UTEP, my productivity has been centered in three distinct focus areas: science education, curriculum development and technology integration. These areas form the core of my teaching, scholarship and service. At UTEP, I teach at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels in the Teacher Education Department in the College of Education. I have been successful in each of these areas and have developed high-quality and engaging teaching and scholarly materials during my 13 years as a faculty member at UTEP.

What background and experience do you have in your field of study that benefits your students?

As an educator and a skateboarder, I knew I would have unique opportunities to instruct and to work with students and teachers, and the development of action science is a practical example. Through skateboarding and education, I have learned creativity, practice, patience, discipline and goal setting. Many of my audiences of students and parents typically don’t see the connection between skateboarding and science. They often wonder, if you have a Ph.D., why do you ride a skateboard? The answer is because it’s fun and it’s part of who I am.

What do your students like best about your classes?

I believe students enjoy the active learning I provide in class, as well as the innovative manners in which I put forward content in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Additionally, I have utilized creative approaches that include developing materials in Spanish, as well as relevant and relatable methods of approaching teaching and learning in 21st century life, such as the use of skateboarding in order to teach physics. I think my flexiblity as a teacher, and my abiltiy to model and deconstruct classroom methodologies with specific reference to content, makes me unique and is also something of great interest for students.

What are your hobbies? When you’re not teaching, grading or preparing for classes, what are you doing?

I enjoy outdoor activities, such as hiking, playing golf, walking with my dogs, as well as skateboarding, which I have now done for almost 40 years. As Dr. Skateboard (, I have been able to perform numerous “Physics of Skateboarding” demonstrations in both English and Spanish at local elementary, middle and high schools in El Paso, across the United States and internationally in locations including Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Canada. These demonstrations are performed at partner school sites and community settings, where thousands of future teachers, students, faculty, parents and administrators have been in attendance, including most recently participating in the 2016 World Science Festival in New York City. These presentations have allowed me to showcase physics and mathematics concepts in unique ways, and to demonstrate that service within the community should be closely tied to curriculum and instruction.

What’s your favorite UTEP event, and why?

I have participated in Project MOVE, UTEP’s annual day of community service, since its inception, and have served as a faculty liaison each year. I also serve as a member of the El Paso Skatepark Association, and each year we are provided about 30 student volunteers who help us pick up trash in and around the skate parks, sweep the skating surface and paint over offensive graffiti. Through Project MOVE, UTEP students help the El Paso skateboarding community by contributing to a positive environment for kids to enjoy. It’s also an event that has a huge impact on the El Paso community overall, with more than 1,700 UTEP students, faculty and staff participating annually.

What advice would you give to an incoming UTEP student?

I think it’s important to not compromise your dreams, and to find people who amplify what you are doing, not dilute it. I also think it is OK to approach people and ask for help, and of course, you have to stay active and look to make progress. For me, I’m always about working with people who keep an open mind and have a positive approach to life.

Click Here For More UTEP News Stories