Schools all over the USA are starting to use Roarockit in the classroom. We ran into an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and were crazy stoked to see what Dominic Yarbrough was doing at Constanoa Continuation High School. I sat down with Dominic to talk to him about the program.
Hello Dominic, can you tell me a little about yourself and what you do?
I am a teacher at Costanoa Continuation High School in Santa Cruz, California. Currently I teach Ag Production/Food Science, Physical Science and Math. All of my classes are as hands-on/project-based as possible, no textbooks. A couple years ago I worked with an amazing teacher designing a Physical Science/Shop class. I’ve taken much of what we did together to my current classes. The students design projects, build them, analyze them if or when they fail then rebuild.
How did you hear about Roarockit? What inspired you to bring skateboard building into the classroom?
I was poking around the internet for new projects for my Physics class and came across a school not far from here that offered skateboard building as an after-school project. I learned they were using your products, pitched the idea to my class, they were of course super interested, so I just went for it. This year I happen to have several really good skaters in my class so that helped the excitement. Santa Cruz is quite skate friendly, there are at least 8 skate parks within 20 minutes from the school and at least that many DIY spots. I also found out about the Oasis Skateboard Factory and read just about everything I could find about it. I don’t have an art background so my focus has been on science and engineering. I am planning on team-teaching this class next year with an English teacher so we’ll be able to bring in the humanities element.
We love Oasis Skateboard Factory too! Skateboard building is not a typical classroom activity though. How do you work this into your curriculum?
I am really looking at the physics/engineering and math involved. We studied pressure through a unit on hydraulics and engineering when we designed and built bridges. Motion was covered in rockets and planes. There have been many math concepts introduced and practiced throughout the year that are able to be directly applied to the skateboards from ratios and proportions in the graphics and paint mixing to geometry of deck design to quadratics and trigonometry of tricks. Next year I’m planning on introducing the math and science through the board building instead of using it as practice and application.
That sounds amazing! How do you feel this program benefits the classroom?
I have never, in my entire career, had 100% engagement 100% of the time until now. Simply doing something that the students are truly interested in and is real/relevant to them shows them that they are valued in the classroom. I want them to be active participants in their learning rather than merely recipients of facts. There are so many points of entry in this type of program that students with just about any skill level can be successful. Students can be engaged in a variety of aspects so there really is something for everyone: art, literacy, communication, deck design, street skating, longboards, counter-culture issues, self-expression, physics, environmentalism, just about anything.
Sounds like this is a perfect fit for your classroom. How did you manage to fund this program?
The initial kit was purchased with school funds that my principal was able to scrape together. My students then wrote a gofundme campaign that raised the money for the next round of supplies. I am hoping to be able to sell enough decks to offset the cost for the next semester.
That amazing! Our friends at Oasis do the same thing. Any advice for people looking to start up something similar?
Go for it, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone; that’s where learning happens, for our students and for us.
That's a real positive outlook. Are the students riding their boards afterwards? Or do they use them more as an art project?
Most of the boards will be ridden but that hasn’t stopped them from putting a lot of time and energy into their graphics. I think they’re looking forward to showing them off at the park, maybe with a front-side rail grab off the coping.
Do you have a history of skateboarding?
I surf. I skated quite a bit when I was younger. My dad and I built a quarter pipe vert ramp when I was in middle school, which I skated to the ground. For reasons I really can’t remember I just kind of stopped, that was 25 years ago. I’ve been working on dusting off the cobwebs with my own kids at home.
Thanks for your time. Any last words for the viewers back home?
Skateboarding is not a crime!!