Smithsonian Taps UTEP’s ‘Dr. Skateboard’ for New Research
Last Updated on November 25, 2020 at 2:00 PM
Originally published November 25, 2020
By Daniel Perez
The Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation recently awarded The University of Texas at El Paso’s William Robertson, Ph.D., with a three-year appointment as a distinguished research fellow.
Robertson, a professor of teacher education, earned this latest accolade in October 2020, but he started work with the center earlier this year as a subject-matter expert to help develop the concepts and approaches around new curriculum tied to skateboards.
The UTEP educator, known internationally as “Dr. Skateboard,” has spent years developing unique ways to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among secondary students. He has created curricula based on his Action Science series of videos, graphic novels and live performances of skateboarders and bicycle motocross racers.
“For me, this is a big deal,” Robertson said. “It adds a whole level of legitimacy to my academic and scholarly work, and puts me working with some of the more creative people in the areas of invention and innovation. This only will help to strengthen my collaborations in the area of Action Science, as well as contribute to efforts nationally and internationally in terms of innovative curriculum development.”
Jeffrey L. Brodie, Ph.D., deputy director of the Lemelson Center, said that his team was excited to work with Robertson on their Innoskate Invention Skate Park curriculum that will involve a series of invention-based educational activities that tie STEAM (the “A” stands for art) with skateboard history and culture. In 2013, the center created Innoskate, which is now the official education and outreach arm for USA Skateboarding, as it prepares to launch skateboarding as an Olympic sport. The program has inspired associations between academics, researchers, scientists and museum professionals with the skate community.
“Your scholarship regarding the design, development and implementation of STEM curriculum, along with your insights about and professional experiences in skateboarding have already made significant contributions to this work,” Brodie said to Robertson in his appointment letter.
The center is part of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The fellowship is a volunteer position that could be renewed upon mutual consent.