Sunday, 8 July 2012

Original Lesson 23: Winning Math Gold

I recently had my planning day for term three with my first teaching team. The numeracy coach raised the concept of 'Olympic Math', where half of our numeracy lessons for the weeks surrounding the Olympic Games centre on the interrelationship between math and sport. I'm pretty excited about this topic as I am passionate about teaching math in a real-life context, and using concrete objects and kinaesthetic tasks in my activities (Skateboarding around angles) so have been brainstorming some potential lesson ideas:

Long jump 

  1. Students perform and measure jumps in pairs. 
  2. Record results in centimetres, convert these to metres and millimetres. 
  3. Transfer their results to a stem and leaf plot. 
  4. Determine the mean, median, mode and range of their jumps. 
  5. Disregarding any variables, determine the probability that their jump will be (for instance) more than 0.50m, 0.75m, 1m, 1.25m, 1.5m and 1.75m based only on their past results. 
The same activities can be utilised for discuss and javelin and a neat improvisation that a team member mentioned was that, if you school doesn't have the usual sports gear, a safety-friendly alternative is plastic plates. 


I must credit this idea to a fellow team member. Diving is a fantastic sport for teaching range, median, mode and mean, especially as the top and lowest judges' scores are disregarded. 

The same works for gymnastics and I'm planning to stream some Olympic events into the classroom, on a shortened version if necessary, so that we can view the events and then do the math after each dive or gym routine. 


Again, my fantastic team originated this idea. Flags of the countries competing in the Olympics are a great way to practise and teach symmetry. 

Time zones and seasons  

If you're in California, what time do you need to wake up to watch the 100m Men's Final if it's on at 6pm London time? What if you live in Melbourne? What about if you're on holidays in Hawaii? 

Compare the median, mode, range and mean of temperatures in the UK (during its Summer) to five other countries around the world during each day of the Olympics? 

Multiplication and Division 

What is X country's medal winning achievement per capita at the moment? 

Multiply some countries' medal tallies together to equal a top five country's total on the current medal tally. 

If 100,000 can fit in the Olympic Stadium, think of some of the seating arrangements that could make up the stadium (e.g. seats per row, rows per section, sections per level and how many levels)? 
eg 25 seats per row, 40 rows per section, 50 sections per level, 2 levels
25 x 40 x 50 x 2 = 100, 000 
Challenge students to come up with as many different combinations as possible and, as they improve, vary the total number of seats for extra challenge, e.g. 108,000. 

Please check out my class blog in the first few weeks of term for worked examples. 

Please comment with any other suggestions for Olympic Math activities or any other teaching points that leverage off the excitement around the games? 

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