USTA New England and Unruly Studios Match Tennis and STEAM Education in Afterschool Programs

BOSTON, April 6, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Unruly Studios has partnered with USTA New England to combine coding and active play in the organization’s network of afterschool tennis programs. Kids in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire are playing tennis and learning to code at the same time with the help of Unruly Splats.

Invented by Boston-based Unruly Studios, Unruly Splats are programmable floor buttons that students stomp on to make them light up, play sounds, and collect points. Using an iPad or Chromebook, students can code them to create games that promote movement and teamwork like relay races, whack-a-mole, or games of their own design. Unruly Studios collaborated with USTA New England to create a custom lesson plan combining coding concepts and tennis skills.

"Unruly Splats are a strong gateway to STEM for kids who love sports," said Bryanne Leeming, CEO and Founder of Unruly Studios. "We can’t wait to see what the USTA instructors and students come up with, whether it’s coding their own training drills, or maybe using the Splats as targets for tennis balls. The sky is the limit."

The introduction of Unruly Splats was inspired by USTA New England’s Innovation Challenge to come up with new ideas for tennis education that focus on inclusivity. Special education teacher and tennis coach, Resty Sepuan, created a program called Summer STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math).

"I chose STEAM because of its real world applications and how fascinating it would be to use it to show the scientific side of tennis," said Sapuan. "Not only could the idea help students retain academic skills that many lose during the summer, but it could help them become better, more technical tennis players."

USTA New England’s Director of Recreational Programs & Facilities, Sarah Wishart, organized a trial run with Unruly Splats beginning in January 2022 with two New England National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapters, TeamFAME in Newport, RI and Sportsmen’s Tennis & Enrichment Center in Dorchester, MA.

TeamFAME, which is based at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport recently completed their pilot with fifth and sixth graders. Following tennis on Fridays, TeamFAME students spent an hour coding and playing games with Unruly Splats.

"They definitely learned a lot. As they changed the code, they could see their impact right away. They also benefited from having that physical movement piece and sound that correspond," said Jennie Schwab, TeamFAME Lead Enrichment Teacher. "Any type of opportunity like this for kids to code or just to experience something like this, even if it only touches a handful of kids, can be extremely beneficial."

Unruly Splats are now in the hands of Sportsmen’s students in Dorchester, who will continue the pilot through April. USTA New England will also bring Unruly Splats to the New Hampshire Homeschool Tennis Program later this year.

"Funny enough, the first game we built for Unruly Splats on one of our earliest prototypes was a tennis game," said Leeming. "It took coordination between two players to volley light back and forth from Splat to Splat. So we’ve come full circle to be partnering with USTA."

About Unruly Studios
Unruly Studios is the creator of Unruly Splats, the first STEM learning tool that combines coding with active play. Unruly Studios’ vision is to create an electronic playground that makes learning more playful, collaborative, and inclusive. The team is made up of experts in cognitive science, toy manufacturing, and education who bring broad industry experience from Scratch, Mattel, Nickelodeon, iRobot, Disney, and MIT Media Lab.

Charlotte Ward
(530) 563-6860

SOURCE Unruly Studios