Playing sports, and watching athletic competitions and great sporting events such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl are part of almost everyone's life! While I enjoy the excitement of it all, I am also reminded that there is more that goes into athletics than just good entertainment. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), is present in every aspect of these beloved games. This truth provides a wonderful opportunity to get kids involved in an early love of STEM.
Getting kids interested in STEM subjects isn’t always accomplished by showing them really neat experiments or awe-inspiring real-world applications. Sometimes the best way is to find what interests them and meet them there with STEM! Often, students are surprised to find out how STEM is woven into every facet of life. From the science behind their memory foam pillows (invented by NASA) to the engineering involved in the design and function of their car that drove them to school, STEM is taken for granted in its existence in the seemingly mundane things we do and the activities we enjoy.
One of the best ways, in my opinion to get even the least academically inclined kid excited about STEM, is to learn with sports! What does STEM have to do with sports? EVERYTHING! Movies like Moneyball highlight the statistics that go into many of the decisions made in athletic events. Even how winners are determined and professional players are ranked are based on equations—many of which are the equations being taught to your students right now.
Here are some of the best resources you can use to get your sports enthusiast kids pumped up about STEM (and maybe without them even knowing they are learning!)
1. Check out the website for Connect a Million Minds to download free games and activities relating sports to STEM. This includes a booklet for football with a fun “flag football” game to play while watching a football game and identifying geometry and physics concepts happening in real time! Other sports such as tennis, car racing, and more are available as well.
2. Get your class moving with this Math and Sports Activity Bundle
Engaging activities connecting math concepts to sports! Instead of boring worksheets, students will solve problems based on their own collected data and connect the concepts to exciting careers!
Students will be surprised to learn how much math is used in their favorite sports. Each activity will get your kids out of their seats and playing paper football, running a relay race, or measuring their heart rate! Each activity also includes a STEM career connection that will help students see why math is useful in real life.
Each activity is also sold separately in addition to this bundle and will take about 45 - 60 minutes to complete depending on student level. The activities are perfect as an in-class assignment, review activity, homework assignment, or extracurricular activity. Activities are focused on ratios and proportions concepts. Each activity includes an introduction, career connection section, discussion questions, word problems, and extension critical thinking questions.
Activity 1: "Heart Rate Math"
Students learn about heart rate and the importance of this number in sports medicine. They compute their own heart rate after various activities and graph the results. They calculate the target heart rate and answer critical thinking questions.
Activity 2: "Sports Scores"
Students learn how their favorite sports calculate common statistics like batting average or throwing accuracy. Students then play a game of paper football to find their own field goal accuracy!
Activity 3: "Relay Race"
Students complete calculations for a set of relay race times then they hold their own race! Using common classroom items, they time the race and calculate various ratio problems such as "keeping the same pace, how long would it take to run 3 miles?"
3. Math and sports related, web-based questions and more resources for all ages on Math Goodies. These questions have links to lessons on the math concepts used. Perfect for forming your own classroom adaptations!
Get everyone involved in the fun of STEM in sports!