10 Ways to Use Sports to Teach Math

December 15th, 2011 by admin

All kids are different and some may excel in math naturally while others may get confused by all of the concepts.  Sometimes switching the way a child looks at math is all it takes to get the concept to “click” for them.  For the child who is interested in sports, it may be more fun for them to use sports in order to learn math concepts.  Check out 10 ways to use sports to teach math.

  1. Bowling to teach addition: When you roll the ball and knock over pins you write down how many pins you knocked down.  Then you roll your second ball down the lane and knock over more pins, you add those to what you knocked over with your first ball.  Then a total is created in the big part of the frame on the score sheet.  When the next frame is bowled the student will not only get to add up how many pins they knocked over in that frame, but then they get to add them to what they knocked over in previous frames.
  2. Baseball to learn batting averages: The number of times a player hits the ball and gets on base versus the number of times at bat will give their batting average.  That could be a way to teach percentages to a child.  For example, if a batter is up to bat 10 times, but only gets on base 5 times then their batting average would be .500.  This could be converted to 50%.
  3. Pool to teach trigonometry: A child can use trigonometry when they play pool.  Figuring out what angle needs to be created in order to sink the ball into the pocket can be mathematically figured out.  Using an Isosceles triangle of 3 by 4 by 5 will determine where the cue needs to be to make the shot.
  4. Football to use subtraction: If a player kicked a ball from their 20 yard line and it made it to the 50 yard line how far was the kick?  50-20=30 so the kick was 30 yards.  If team X needs to make it to their 40 yard line to make a first down and they are now at their own 12 yard line because of penalties and such how many yards does a player have to run to make the first down?  40-12=28 yards.
  5. Using soccer to learn statistics: Based on how a player does during the season is a good predictor on how they will do in the future.  If a player has made a goal in 5 out of their last 8 games the odds of them making a goal in future games is very good.  The exact chance can be determined using a formula.
  6. Basketball to teach Mean, Median, Mode and Range:  Open the sports section of any paper and pull up the details from a basketball game from the night before.  Ask the child to write down how many points each player scored on Team X.  The players scored 2, 4, 6, 6, 8, 10 and 12.  After explaining what the above terms mean the student can determine that the mean score is 6.9.  The median is 6.  The range is 10 and the mode is 6.
  7. Car racing to learn velocity: Sprint cars go so many feet in a certain amount of time and a formula can be used to determine the velocity that the car was going. 
  8. Skateboarding and Algebra: If a child is building a half-pipe ramp they will need to determine how long the ramp needs to be and at what angle they need to make it in order to achieve the distance that they want.  They will use algebra to find these measurements.
  9. Basketball can help teach range function: Graphing the angle at which a basketball is shot from and the distance from where it is shot you can determine how fast the ball has to be thrown in order to make the basket.
  10. Using golf to learn probability: There are many sites that contain tons of data regarding sports figures.  So if you don’t like golf you can use many other types of sports for this exercise, but if you look up all of the times that a golfer has made a hole in one and then look at how many holes of golf they have played using probability you can determine how high the chance is that a golfer will get a hole in one.  The chances are pretty small.
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