Back when Phil Mickelson was a child, he came up with a project for science class that hinted at his future: an experiment measuring which compression golf ball was best in terms of distance and accuracy.
Three decades and three Masters' jackets later, he's busy with an even more ambitious science project: the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy. The academy is sort of a summer camp for science teachers, where third, fourth and fifth grade teachers come to learn how to improve their teaching of math and science. So the morning after finishing the British Open, Mr. Mickelson has flown into town for the start of this week's academy at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J.
"I've always used math and science in my career," Mr. Mickelson explains over coffee, his conversation laced with references to coefficients, vectors and vortices. "It helps me know what I need to focus on. On putting, for example, at three feet the success rate is about 99%. At four feet it drops off to 88%; at five feet to 75%; at six feet to 62%; and so on.
"I used to think that companies went overseas for cheap labor. That may be part of it. But I've learned that the larger issue is to attract people who have the engineering and other skills they need."
It's not just Google and Intel and Apple and ExxonMobil that have a hard time finding enough people with these skills. So do the public schools, with the result that, at least in the lower years, the majority of math and science courses are taught by people who never studied the subjects in college. Hence the academy program, which is designed by experts from Math Solutions and the National Science Teachers Association, and which emphasizes the link between these two fields.
JULY 20, 2010
Phil Mickelson's Science Project
by William McGurn
Too bad Mickelson didn't call MSMI.