GEOMETRY IN SPORTS MANIA
Knight Foundation Summer Institute
Jennifer Fisher, Bryn Mawr College
With parts from The Best of WonderScience
Why would students want to learn different geometric shapes? Shapes are relevant to almost everything we do and sports are one example to prove this to the students. Geometry is important in sports and determines whether or not a sport will succeed. The shape of the ball and the field are not arbitrary, but very important for every sport. For example, imagine trying to play basketball with a football. Once put into this context, the students will know more about geometry than they originally thought.
The activities below will help the students understand geometry while enjoying some of their favorite pastimes.
Exercise #1 Balls as Geometry
e.g.; tennis ball, baseball, beach ball, football, softball, basketball, hockey puck, discus, soccer ball, etc.
Exercise #2 A Sports Spectacular
From The Best Of WonderScience
The students could also write essays about their new sports. On another day, the class could try out some of the new sports that were invented and then talk about whether they worked or not and why. Is geometry pertinent to whether the sports succeeded?
The students should be graded on their use of geometry in the new game that they have invented and their understanding of how geometry can relate to sports.
Philadelphia Mathematics Content
Mathematics Content Standard 3- Geometry
Benchmark 1 is satisfied because different sports are part of every culture and geometry is important to every sport. In benchmark 2, each students must 'identify, describe, compare, classify, and construct various two- and three- dimensional objects including squares, triangles, other polygons, circles, cubes, rectangular prisms, pyramids, spheres, cones, and cylinders.' While discussing the importance of different shapes, these topics are touched upon. Benchmark 4 speaks of visualizing geometric shapes and 'developing spatial sense' which will be done in a hands-on way while examining different balls used in sports.
Mathematics Content Standard 6- Problem Solving and Reasoning
Benchmark 6 says that students must 'invent a variety of approaches to solve a problem and understand and evaluate approaches described by others,' which is accomplished while creating new sports and explaining why they might or might not realistically work.
Mathematics Content Standard 8- Mathematical Communication
Benchmark 1 reads that students will learn to 'use the skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing to communicate, interpret, and evaluate mathematical ideas.' This is accomplished through creating the new game and then reading them to other classmates.
Writing is clearly involved while creating a new game and then recording what the rules are. There are also many thinking and reasoning skills involved in this activity.