Making a game out of math

The sign outside the door read “Real Life Ratios!” but inside Room 2007 of the WKU Honors College and International Center, it sounded a lot like the set of ESPN during March Madness.


A Camp Discover math class was in progress to be sure, but it didn’t look (or sound) like what most people expect from a middle school course.


Amanda Krutza covered the basics of ratios (part to part or part to whole) and the calculations needed to go from ratio to decimal to percentage. Then it was game on.


The class needed to create some data to work with, so the campers divided into two teams (the Kentucky Hackers and the Wildcats) and took to the court (actually two mini Nerf hoops set up in different areas of the classroom). Each team member was given time to shoot from a free-throw line and from a three-point line. Another team member recorded the makes and misses as others helped with rebounding. The campers rotated through the positions, and in just a few minutes, they had plenty of information for their calculations.


The campers figured out free-throw percentage and three-point percentage for each player and then considered the team statistics. They used this information to predict which team would be the winner should they face off on the court – much as the prognosticators do each spring with college basketball.


And as many college fans do come April, the campers will leave basketball behind. Up next? Space exploration, astronomical units, and model solar systems.