Additional Math Pages & Resources

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII in the Math Class

This Sunday marks another highlight of the football season for couch potatoes and sports fans alike as the San Francisco 49ers get ready to battle the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. As your students choose teams, get out their football jerseys, stock up on snacks and follow the coverage online, opportunities abound for including math in the pregame excitement.

Even for students who don't especially enjoy football, Super Bowl ads have become a much-talked-about part of the weekend. Online previews and advance clips give everyone a chance to weigh in on the best and the worst ads of the year. You can use these ads to have your class calculate cost per second of ad time, create tables and graphs to show which students plant to watch which ads, evaluate which advertised products give the best value for the buck, etc.

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As part of your student's Super Bowl experience, you can have students plot the geographical course to get a mythical relative from one part of the country to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, stopping to visit war memorial sites, parks and national monuments on the way. Students can calculate distance traveled per day, expenses (including hotel and food as well as gas money), and  how long it would take to get from the starting point to New Orleans if they traveled so many miles per day. They can research and write mini reports, and even keep a travel log or create a tourist brochure complete with photos and money-saving tips for the savvy traveler.

Students can create video ads and online presentations highlighting some of the landmarks in your own city and state along with statistics to encourage visitors from around the country to travel to your town. You could create a contest where the top three ads or travel brochure presentations created by students in each class would be featured during your own classroom football (or math) bowl next week.

If your students aren't sure how to tell which Super Bowl this is, help them decipher Roman numerals with suggestions from our previous blog post: Roman Numerals and the Olympics. Then ask them to write the correct Roman numeral for the fiftieth Super Bowl in 2016 (L) and the thirty-first Olympics that same year (XXXI).

Some teachers create Super Bowl games with math facts and equations to challenge students while helping them realize that math can be fun. The state of Washington has created a list of basic football facts plus a downloadable football field you can use (and modify) as a game board for your class: http://www.k12.wa.us/CISL/EliminatingtheGaps/TeacherToolkit/footballmath.aspx

Football Game Board
You can print a football game board for each student in your class, and use the boards to help students add, subtract, divide, multiply, count by tens, etc. Younger students can change the board to mark 1-10 on the yard lines rather than 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, etc. You can also subdivide the yard lines to have students count by fives. Give each student a paper football shape (use the image on the right or from the PDF file provided by Baltimore Country Public Schools below) along with the game board. Cut additional football shapes and print math equations on them to review the basic facts your class is learning.


Place the equations in a box or basket. Have a student choose a football equation (without looking at it). Read it aloud to the class. Let your students move their football to the correct yard line for the answer (or have them use their electronic response systems to click in with their answers. Each student who answers correctly can advance down his own field 10 yards. Continue until at least one student reaches the end of the field. Give those students a bonus equation to solve for the extra point.

In addition to equations, try some of these football math questions to create your own math game: http://school.familyeducation.com/math/family-learning/37542.html

The Baltimore County Public Schools have put together a complete PDF file with instructions and handouts for creating your own football math game. Students receive a paper helmet (included in the file) each time they score a touchdown: http://www.bcps.org/offices/dpd/pdf/Football-Math-Game.pdf.

If you prefer computer games, here's one for football fans: http://www.funbrain.com/football/. No knowledge of the rules of football is required. Students can practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (or any combination of the above) with opportunities to us decimals and algebra (or not) as they move the football down the field toward a touchdown.

For practice adding and subtracting positive and negative integers while moving down the football field, try http://www.mathgoodies.com/games/integer_game/football.html. You'll need to remind your students that each new equation begins where the arrow indicates, not at zero.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has pulled together three math lessons involving  football: http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?id=U85 to help your students with number sense, geometry, measurement, statistics, estimations, and problem solving.


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Have additional football math suggestions? Leave a comment in the box below.