Dr. Skateboard: a hobby, a sport, a teaching tool

Valerie Herrera, Staff Reporter

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At first glance, you can’t help but notice the impressive display of achievements Dr. Skateboard has collected throughout his career.

Bill Robertson, also known as Dr. Skateboard, has been a skateboarding performer for more than 35 years and is currently an associate provost and associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education, with expertise in science education, curriculum development and technology integration.

When Robertson came to UTEP, he had two bachelor’s degrees in history and biology, a master’s degree in science education, and a Ph.D. in multicultural teaching and education. Since he moved to El Paso in 2004,  Robertson decided to continue his education and get a third bachelor’s degree in Spanish.

“It’s not about collecting degrees, it’s about learning new skills. You want to be interested in what’s new, especially when working in the field of education because education brings you more opportunities,” Robertson said.

His educational efforts have earned him numerous teaching awards, such as U.S. Professor of the Year Award, the Texas Regent’s Outstanding Teaching Award and the College of Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Additionally, in honor of his contributions to the university, Dr. Skateboard was selected as a Fulbright U.S.

Scholar to work internationally at La Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, in Santiago, Chile.

“My ambition is to give students pathways to success and to give teachers resources that they can use,” Robertson said.

As a middle school teacher, Robertson taught lessons in physics, but found that the traditional ways of teaching didn’t captivate students’ attention. 

In an effort to motivate his students, Dr. Robertson decided to use his skateboarding background and incorporate extreme sports with education. 

He soon worked with other teachers to combine ways of adding activities to enhance learning abilities in the classroom, which earned him the name of Dr. Skateboard.

“I don’t want to get caught up in old ways of doing things. Let’s find what people are into and let’s help them make those connections,” Robertson said.

Robertson has used his education as a means to get around the country and follow his skateboarding passion.

Robertson took his idea of active learning a step further by reaching out to middle school teachers and students in the community to help them achieve educational success.

Eric Nieto, senior cellular and molecular biochemistry major, said he remembers when Robertson went to his middle school to explain how extreme sports relate to the anatomy of the body.

“I thought it was really cool and it actually inspired me to go to college to study cellular and molecular biochemistry,” Nieto said.

So far, action science has been used in more than 80 different classrooms within four school districts in the El Paso community. 

In an effort to create appealing new methods of teaching, Robertson wrote a book entitled, “Action Science, Relevant Teaching and Active Learning.” The book enhances the learning experience of teachers and students by displaying video tutorials connected to a smart phone or tablet with the use of QR codes embedded within the text.

“Video can be used as a way of delivering primary content, and I try to push out this content with the use of technology to build the movement and make it freely available to anyone,” Robertson said.

In the future, Robertson would like to take the action science approach across the nation.

“I find that there’s lots of ways I can do that, both as an adult, a skateboarder, and as an educator to help leverage that idea,” Robertson said. “ I really want to create a social movement that says learning is something we do from life and we can create the learning ourselves.”

Valerie Herrera may be reached at [email protected]