Math Speedball

Perhaps you are familiar with math basketball. This school year I have three Algebra I classes whose temperment runs from the wild to the wilder, and if they could get away with it math basketball is all they’d do in class. Not only is this impractical but they’d get tired of it, even including variants like math frisbee or math golf.

However, given a preponderance of students would literally hang from the rafters if I had any, I needed to brainstorm a new physical-based review game. Hence, Speedball.

Supplies needed: A soft ball of some sort, like the type included with a mini-basketball hoop, and a timer.

1. A counter on the board is settable from 0 to 10, and starts at 0. (Or to the left of 1 on my picture above.)

2. The ball is tossed to a student and the timer starts.

3. The student with the ball gets a question.

4. If the student gets the problem right the counter moves up by one. If the student gets the problem wrong the counter moves down by one.

5. The student passes the ball to a different student and either a new question is given (if the last answer was right) or the same question was given (if the last answer was wrong).

6. Play continues until the marker reaches 10, at which point the timer stops.

I set this up as class vs. class with the students trying to beat the best times, but a flat target like 3 minutes should work equally well.

Depending on your class you may need special rules about involving all students in the game. I also recommend a 1-point penalty for a student who passes the ball without answering a question.


The Best Sports Statistics Article I Have Read

The No-Stats All-Star

“I care a lot more about what ought to have happened than what actually happens,” said Hinkie, who has an M.B.A. from Stanford. The routine N.B.A. game, he explained, is decided by a tiny percentage of the total points scored. A team scores on average about 100 points a game, but two out of three N.B.A. games are decided by fewer than 6 points — two or three possessions. The effect of this, in his mind, was to raise significantly the importance of every little thing that happened. The Lakers’ Trevor Ariza, who makes 29 percent of his 3-point shots, hit a crazy 3-pointer, and as the crowd moaned, Hinkie was almost distraught. “That Ariza shot, that is really painful,” he said. “Because it’s a near-random event. And it’s a 3-point swing.” When Bryant drove to the basket, instead of being forced to take a jump shot, he said: “That’s three-eighths of a point. These things accumulate.”