This month our focus is on football, as in what we cannot fail to know is happening in June 2010...
There is going to be an important tournament in South Africa! Fortunately, there is mathematics in football and it would be good if we could use learners’ interest in the sport to make them more (or even more) interested in maths. Why not start thinking how you could use the World Cup in this way by reading this article about the mathematics of football?
I am sure that you could use the FIFA World Cup rankings in many different ways to cover various mathematical topics and practise basic skills.
As usual NRICH is useful. For example, they have the NRICH Football World Cup Simulation written by Alan Parr, in which you can find data-collecting and display, probabilities and random numbers, averages, percentages, and much more besides.
You can download a football fractions poster from scribd.com, and three Maths World Cup Boardgames from the TES website. Various worksheets and challenges for your students can also be downloaded from the internet, and perhaps you might like to adapt an American Football game involving place value for your learners?
Have you discovered Plus Magazine? Plus opens a door to the world of maths, with all its beauty and applications, by providing articles from the top mathematicians and science writers on topics as diverse as art, medicine, cosmology and sport. You can read the latest mathematical news on the site every week, subscribe to their fortnightly e-newsletter, read their online magazine, published four times a year, and browse their archive, which contains all past issues and news items.
In Issue 39 of Plus there are five interesting articles about football:
- On the ball by John Haigh asks questions such as: ‘If the two teams are evenly matched (and ignoring the well-documented phenomenon of home advantage), then any goal that is scored is equally likely to fall to either team. How likely is it, in these circumstances, that the team that scores first will win the game?’ (He answers the question using the Poisson distribution).
- Blast it like Beckham? is also written by John Haigh
- Beckham in his prime number by Marcus du Sautoy addresses the debate over the mystical meaning behind Beckham's choice of the number 23 shirt to play for Real Madrid
- The luck of the draw
- Formulaic Football, which students studying the Markov process would find interesting.
In 2006 in Plus, you could have read about Galileo's football shirt!
Do contact us if you have other ideas of how you can use football (or other sports) in your lessons!
P.S. Up2d8 maths in Issue 54 of the Secondary Magazine uses the 2010 World Cup as a context for discussing probabilities. The PowerPoint slides include the misconception held by many students that the chance of winning a football match is 1/3 because there are three possible outcomes, and goes on to encourage pupils to consider other statements related to probability.
And do have a look at this discussion in the Primary Forum on World Cup Fantasy Football - where you will find lots of useful ideas and links to other websites!