When famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wanted to learn about the science of skateboarding, a debut sport in the 2020 Olympics, he turned to The University of Texas at El Paso’s resident expert, Bill Robertson, Ph.D., interim dean of the College of Health Sciences.
Robertson, who also goes by “Dr. Skateboard,” was part of a recent StarTalk podcast that Tyson hosts. Co-hosts for the Aug. 6, 2021, episode were actor/comedian and radio personality Chuck Nice and multisport TV/radio broadcaster and former professional English soccer player Gary O’Reilly. The hosts recorded the show in early July 2021.
The UTEP administrator, who also is a professor of teacher education, said that during the show he discussed how athletes integrate physics principles into their skateboarding and how their “tricks” can be broken down into scientific concepts. The group also talked about how the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics will broaden interest in the sport.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, conducted in 2021, scheduled two competitions – park and street – for the male and female skateboard athletes. The Paris 2024 organizing committee submitted a proposal to the International Olympic Committee to include skateboarding in the next Olympics.
Robertson is an internationally known educator who developed Action Science, a portfolio of videos, textbooks, graphic novels, and classroom activities that demonstrate how physical science is the basis for such fun activities as skateboarding and BMX (bicycle motocross) racing. Classrooms around the world use the curriculum that Robertson established and shared on his website, social media and YouTube.
The educator has performed and competed in skateboarding contests for more than 40 years. In 2020, the World Round-Up for Freestyle Skateboarding recognized Robertson with its Ambassadors of Freestyle Skateboarding Award. He is a 2010 inductee into the Freestyle Hall of Fame.