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FE Magazine - Issue 7: Focus on...

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 11 February 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 25 February 2010 by ncetm_administrator

skier by Ryan Hoist

Focus on...the Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games will be held from 12-28 February in Vancouver, Canada. On the Olympic Games site, you will find details of all 15 winter sports as well as results – an opportunity to do some statistics practice with real data. Why not ask your learners to write some questions for their classmates for homework and then use the questions in your lesson next day?

The interactive Vectorial Elevation site allows you to transform the sky over Vancouver, Canada. Using a three-dimensional interface, this website lets you design huge light sculptures by directing 20 robotic searchlights located around English Bay. A web page is made for each participant with photos of their design from four cameras located around the city. The website includes a virtual model of Vancouver. Once you are happy with your design you submit it together with your name, location and dedication or comments. Every night from dusk to dawn new designs are quietly rendered sequentially as they are added to a queue. The project automatically creates a personal webpage for each participant, documenting his or her contribution with views from four project webcams. With a 15km visibility radius, the installation intends to blend the virtual space of the internet with one of the most emblematic public spaces in Vancouver. Why not get your students to make a scale drawing of their design using protractors and rulers and then compare their picture with reality online? The class could then choose their favourite(s) and submit them to the website!

Photography by EJHogbinThe Olympic Torch’s journey is detailed on part of the Vancouver Olympic site, where you will find route maps – national, regional and provincial. Using a map of Canada, why not mark a day’s route on the map and, using scales, work out the distance covered? (Printable maps can be downloaded from printablemaps.net). What would the equivalent journey be if you started from your school or college? Challenge your students to predict what the route map of the Olympic Games will be around the UK in 2012!

There is also a wealth of information for money management within the ticket area of the Olympic site and lots of useful resource material within the Useful Facts section. Vancouver is eight hours behind GMT time. It also experiences low temperatures – average winter temperatures range from -8C to 3C – facts which can give meaning to negative numbers.

In a Motivate videoconference John Barrow from Cambridge University explores The Maths behind the Olympic Games. There are also four projects based around the Olympic Games theme:

  • Correlations and Predicting the Future
    Students are asked to explore, through a set of tasks, some of the trends between performances in different sports at the same time in history and in the rate of improvement of records over time
  • What is the chance of winning?
    Using probability, learners look at the chance of winning in tennis and in football
  • Speed and Accuracy
    Accurate measurement of times and distances is very important in the Olympic Games. Races have been won by as little as a thousandth of a second. Learners are asked to investigate some small things that might have an important influence on who wins a gold medal. For example, should swimmers grow longer fingernails?
  • Balance and Strength
    The final set of tasks involve strength and balance and ask, ‘Why is it that small animals can jump several times their own heights, but larger ones cannot?’ 

Let us know how you use these ideas and send us any resources which you develop so that we can share them with other readers!

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