Last season, the UTEP Miner hockey squad was dealt a card they didn’t expect: a change of game times. With only one sheet of ice in El Paso and an increasing demand for hockey, things needed to be shuffled.
While the Ice Miners were used to playing on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:00pm, the Miners would now be playing at 11:00 a.m. and sometimes on days other than Friday and Saturday.
It was at this moment UTEP took the opportunity to make an odd start time and turn it into a way to connect with the community in a different way, through learning.
Take any sport and you can see how much science is put to use during a single game, hockey requires a lot of science. From the creation of the ice players skate on to the curve of a hockey stick, the idea to mix hockey with a science lesson became a no-brainer, thus the Science on Ice game series was created.
Based on program previously used at the rink during field trips, the Miners took the idea and built it into the program now shown during games.
“In efforts to promote hockey to the El Paso community, we chose an approach that by inviting students to a game introduces them to the science behind the sport of hockey and preparation for the sport as well as the ice rink,” UTEP Hockey head coach Tom Herman shared.
Throughout the game, students are taken on a journey through different aspects of science and how it is applied to hockey and then it’s seen in action during the game.
As student themselves, the Miners understand the importance of school, as it is required for each hockey player to maintain a 2.5 GPA while playing for the club.
Aside from hockey, the club spends time off the ice in classrooms talking to students about the opportunities education has provided them. In effort to continue building on those relationships, UTEP invited schools into their classroom, the ice rink.
“The goal is simple, make it enjoyable for everyone. Introduce them to hockey, but at the same time teach them so many different things about science,” Coach Herman added. “Education and especially science isn’t always in the classroom. It’s everywhere. And for the students to be able to enjoy a hockey game, cheer on their UTEP Miners and also learn at the same time, it just makes sense.”
Last season over 1000 students joined the Miners for Science on Ice, this season they are hoping to continue to grow that number.
Anyone on the Miner bench will say, the atmosphere of a Science on Ice game is different. Students yell for the Miners from puck drop to the final buzzer and are quick to let the opposing team know who’s house they’re in.
“They are full of energy and excitement,” said Herman. “They make it an unique experience.”
For $7, students are provided a healthy meal, admission and the opportunity to meet the players after the game. There is only one Science on Ice game left this season and the Miners hope to pack the stands once more to enjoy one last game as they begin to wrap up the season.
The final Science on Ice game is February 2nd against the Texas State Bobcats at 11:00am. For more information on attending our Science on Ice game please visit the UTEP Hockey website.