Amid the customary deluge of advertisements touting luxury SUVs and titanium golf clubs, last month’s British Open featured a televised commercial on a less conventional theme: the importance of math and science education.
None other than golf pro Phil Mickelson appeared in an oft-aired spot stressing the importance to the United States of producing capable students in those subjects. The popular golfer, known to fans as “Lefty,” also used the ads, which were shown during tournaments earlier this year as well, to plug the founding of the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, a professional-development camp for elementary teachers in math and science.
“What if an entire generation of kids just gave up on golf?” Mr. Mickelson says in the ad. “What if the Masters [golf tournament] champions of tomorrow simply lost their passion? … In the world of science and math, it’s a very real possibility.”
In the commercial, a group of youths hitting at a driving range slowly vanishes, before a classroom of students in a lecture hall suffers the same fate.
Mr. Mickelson and his wife, Amy, also appeared at an event in Fairfax, Va., where the inaugural academy was held, on July 22. The National Science Teachers Association, in Arlington, Va., designed the curriculum for the academy, which drew 200 teachers from 20 communities around the country, and is expected to continue in future years.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week