Skateboarding event teaches kids about physics at Nicholl Park

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Science and skateboards? It sounds incongruous, but to Angela Cox, Teen Librarian for the Richmond Public Library, it all made sense. Her vision came together on Thursday at The Science of Skateboard Physics at Richmond’s Nicholl Park on Macdonald Ave.

“Even though they don’t traditionally think of science as something that’s fun that they like to do, they’re all scientists when they skateboard,” Cox said.

Omar Rivera, 22, and Luis Hernandez, 18, checked out the mobile skateboard van on loan from the San Francisco Exploratorium. “I like getting air,” said Rivera. “I get this adrenalin rush, my blood starts pumping. It feels good.”

The best part about skateboarding to Hernandez? “Landing the trick you always wanted to land.”

“All these kids are really into skateboarding, but they don’t know all the intricacies, the engineering and mathematics, that go along with the thing they love to do,” the van’s creator, Eric Dimond, explained to ESPN last June. “If we bring up these concepts like durometer, or friction, or momentum, those are, like, school terms. But if we can associate those things with something that they love, they’re more engaged with it. And instead of having labels given to them, they’re engaging with real skateboard wheels, real skateboard decks and having a physical experience. It’s not like this is a simulated skateboard, or an electronic skateboard.”

Jada Rogue Sanchez, a middle schooler from Juan Crespi in El Sobrante, stood out for two reasons. She was one of two girls boarding along with the guys, and the only kid wearing a helmet.

“She’s smart,” said her mother. Her proud parents Julius and Kathryn Sanchez watched as she dropped into the half-pipe.

“We brought her here when she was 3,” said Julius, who is deeply into skateboarding, BMX (bicycle motocross) biking, snowboarding and all things extreme.

Jada Rogue walked over, a little winded. Though she said she loves both skateboarding and science, she said it’s hard participating in such male-dominated fields. “You just get used to it, remember to not let the boys discourage you.”

Michael Totten, an 18-year-old freshman at Contra Costa College, said he’d also been skateboarding since the age of 3. “It feels like you jump on a roller coaster and when you hit that hill, it’s like a feeling you’ve never felt before,” he said.

DeVontae Green, 13 years old and a skateboarder for two years, said, “I’m here for everything: have fun, skate, learn stuff too.”

To learn more, check out the Exploratorium’s webpage on the science of skateboarding here: http://www.exploratorium.edu/skateboarding/

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