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Future Goals program uses hockey as teaching tool

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils


Andy Greene with P.K. Subban at Tuesday's Future Goals launch at Science Park High School in Newark. Back row, from left: Anaheim's Cam Fowler, Detroit's Niklas Kronwall, and Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds.


When she’s not studying in Science Park High School’s computer lab, Laura Lima skates for the New Jersey Rockets’ 16U Tier 2 squad at AmeriHealth Pavilion.

She wore her jersey to school on Tuesday, which might have been an ordinary school day if not for the dazzling roster of NHL stars that showed up for class.

Greene with Science Park student Laura Lima.

"I told my friends I was going to meet everyone and they were really jealous,” said Lima, who also plays for Newark’s East Side High School. "They wish they could be here right now."

Lima, 15, was part of a select group of students who helped present the Future Goals Digital Education Program, a joint initiative between the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players' Association.

Future Goals will be available in K-12 schools across all 30 NHL markets along with hundreds of additional communities. It is geared toward students of middle school age (grades 6-8), but it has the ability to expand in both directions.

Tuesday's guest list included some of the biggest names in hockey. Devils defenseman Andy Greene was joined by Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, Florida Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad, New York Islanders captain John Tavares, Buffalo Sabres forward and former Devil Brian Gionta, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, and Julie Chu and Meghan Duggan from the U.S. women's national team.

Also in attendance were NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director Mathieu Schneider, and Devils President of Business Operations Hugh Weber.

The NHL and NHLPA partnered with Washington D.C.-based EverFi to create a digital learning program that uses hockey as a vehicle to foster further education in digital social responsibilities and to allow students to develop skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It’s really cool because it’s another step I can take,” Lima said. "It’s an encouragement for me to keep playing hockey. Meeting everyone and hearing their experience of how they started hockey, it’s great."

The digital program is divided into two phases.

The first phase, which the students were working on Tuesday, tackles social responsibilities, such as teaching about cyber-bullying and the proper ways to interact on social media while maintaining privacy.

"You have to now," Greene said. "The way so much information’s out there with so many different ways to get it, you have to make sure to maintain your privacy."

Greene, who majored in education, observed students as they worked on the program.

"It’s interesting to see how they go through this and how they make sure they’re not going to any bad websites, checking the credibility and reliability of each site,” he said.

EverFi co-founder and chief strategy officer Jon Chapman said learning about social responsibilities is an important part of the program because of the difficulties students can face in the changing digital world.

The second phase allows the students to use hockey as a tool for learning about STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

For example, if the students are working on thermodynamics, the program will help them understand how an ice surface is created in an arena and an outdoor stadium. If they're learning about geometry, a teaching tool will involve the angles between the boards and the ice, or the direction a player takes to the puck from the blue line to the corner. They will learn about velocity through the speed a player skates or how fast someone shoots.

"It's a real supplement, something that augments their classroom experience, and for teachers it's another tool in their toolbox to teach concepts," Chapman said. "So when they want to go learn about thermodynamics in a science section of sixth grade, they can utilize the platform that the NHL and NHLPA has brought to them in Future Goals to bring those concepts to life in a really unique way."

Lima, a forward, will continue fine-tuning her hockey skills and learning from the Future Goals program. But as a Devils fan, her biggest takeaway from Tuesday might have been meeting Greene.

"I play at Prudential Center and to finally be able to meet him in person is amazing,” she said.

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