Sunday, March 10, 2013

Correlation All-Star -- Integrated Sports Project

Bring an authentic sports-based 21st Century Math Project  to your Algebra, Algebra 2 or PreCalculus classroom with Lines of Best Fit and Correlations! In my opinion, correlations are the most under taught skill in all of high school math! I mean for a student to function in the real world, tell my 5 topics that are more important. Do it! 

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, PreCalculus skills)
Math Concepts: Scatterplots, Lines of Best Fit, Correlations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Sports and Finance
Teaching Duration: 4-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 42 Page PDF (1 project, 3 assignment and handouts) 

The Product: Students do an in depth statistical analysis around the research question: "Can Money Buy Championships?"

Come over here and let me tell you
about when I saw Ralph Kiner score
the winning touchdown to win the
Stanley Cup!

Sports always seems to me to every math teachers go to engaging word problem. If it can be done with sports in it, then they'll like it. I always had a strange perspective on this because I loved sports -- but I knew who many of the people in my classes didn't. I always wondered how they felt during those problems. 

What's a football?
So here we are my largest foray into an authentic sports project. I've tried to write this in such a way that it can be super engaging for young sports fans (and old teacher sports fans!), but the problems are rigorous enough that the math takes precedent. This unit is really meant to be taught with TI-Graphing Calculators or in a Computer Lab with Microsoft Excel so if a student isn't into the yucky sports stuff, then they can grab onto an engaging technology (Graphing Calculator Instruction are included!)

Depending on when you teach lines of best fit, this fits! It could work as an advanced Algebra 1 project (I love teaching regression in Algebra 1) or a warm-up project for Pre-Calculus. Wherever correlation coefficient belongs in your curriculum -- this can go there!
Using data from the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL students investigate correlations to some of sports most common questions like:

"Do more shots result in more goals?"
"Do hitters or pitchers have more impact on a team's wins?"
"What NFL stat is most strongly correlated with wins?"

and the grand-daddy...

"Can money buy championships?"

Those of you who work in small-markets, maybe a little surprised by the results. The assignments in this project, breakdown like this:

Hmm... could I use this type of math
when I'm doing research for my capstone
project? Oh great question, most definitely!
- In “He Shoots, He Scores!!!” students will construct scatterplots and draw lines of best fit. While using NHL shot and goal data.

- In “Offense or Defense” students will use TI Graphing Calculates to create scatterplots and determine lines of best fit and correlation coefficients using Runs Scored and Runs Allowed MLB data.

- In “Gridiron Challenge” students will look at NFL data to determine which statistics has the strongest correlation with winning.

-- AND FINALLY in “Can Money Buy Championships?” students will look at data from the four major American sports leagues to answer this inquiry question.

EXTENSION: You could encourage students to seek out their own data and figure out a correlation for themselves! You can open it up to the rest of the world of statistics -- poverty vs. education of women, ACT results vs. college GPA -- anything!

It seems around every corner there's a new STEM school popping up and 21st Century Math Projects can help! If this is interesting I've also integrated projects for an Egg Drop, Box Car Derby and Solar Oven. 

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