In the Football project, students evaluate the efficiency of the teams of the most popular sport in America using self-generated algebraic expressions. The end goal is to use math to predict the outcome of future games.
Academic skills & content: Writing and Evaluating Algebraic Expressions, Making predictions based on statistical data. The statistics from the previous week’s games such as offensive yards and turnovers.
Final Product(s): The final product was the victory of two groups who tied or did better than the professionals. Two seventh grade students stood up at the podium in front of over 350 guest and explained the process that professionals used to make predictions and set odds for NFL games. Then they explained their own process to the audience and how they beat “Vegas”. After they spoke, it was cool to watch grown men walk up to my female students to ask them for their formulas. One of whom asked me “What does the quarterback do?” at the start of the project.
This is how we Create the Expression
This is how we Gather the data
Suggested Duration: The project should run in two stages. Four weeks collecting data, and four weeks to make predictions (8 weeks total).This project could run for the entire NFL season if students wanted to continue independently or as a whole class.
This project was created with the generous support of the Avalon Foundation.
What students will make is not the focus of this project, but what they will do is. However along the way, students will be completing a log of weekly data based on the expression they create. The data will be an evolving set because every week the data is changing and so the results will also be changing.
Students collect data for several weeks before using that information to predict who will win the upcoming games. They use the average of the previous weeks efficiency score to compare and predict who will win based on whose average is lower. Students predict the results of popular sporting events that are going to take place anyway. We are just tapping into their sense of competition to make the math real.
The video to the left of this text explains how to collect the raw data that students will use to measure teams’ efficiency each week.
Guide to the Resources Included Below:
- Football Weekly Stats Spreadsheet: The teacher populated this spreadsheet every week in order to provide students with the raw data they needed to analyze in order to give each team an “efficiency” score
- Football Team Log Sheet: The class used this sheet to log the “efficiency score” of every team each week across the course of the project
How can you use math to predict future outcomes? Math has practical applications that often gets lost in our desire as teachers to get through the curriculum. But, math in it’s pure state is purposeful and logical. Math is used to predict natural disasters, future weather patterns, the trajectory of satellites, asteroids, and comets down to the second. Having students use math to make data based predictions on events that they can compare their results with makes math real. Giving them a way to do that breaks down the idea that math is just a school subject and it can become so much more.
Students in the project will have varying levels of knowledge of football. The great thing about this project is the simplicity of the expression. However, students with more knowledge of the game should be able to explore which variables they would like to include to try to create a better expression.
More Math PBL Essentials:
- Math Portfolios
- Oceanside Rising
- Project Save The Earth: Species Posters (Math)
- The Math Exhibition Project
- The Mathematics of Risk
- The Mathiness of Truthiness
- Triangle Centers Portfolio Project