John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, spent a little time this past off-season working on his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He writes a column for Education Week in which he makes a case for the relevance of mathematics in kids’ daily lives.
“I want students to see that math extends far past the confines of the classroom and into everyday life,” he writes. To do that, he has partnered with the technology company Texas Instruments. The partnership is set up to explore how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM subjects) are used in sports.
In one activity in the series, for example, students use math and science to investigate the path a field-goal kick takes.
- Field-goal mathematics by David S Park at the University of Georgia
- Holders play a key role in field-goal accuracy
Mathematics also plays a role in kids’ lives apart from sports. “Every day we make hundreds of decisions that are informed by our quantitative judgment,” he says. Even stuffing balls into a bag requires us to think geometrically:
Math isn’t just about calculations or memorizing formulas. Math is everywhere we look. It’s in the science behind a perfect football spiral, the velocity of a game-winning three-point shot in basketball. It’s in the ratio of ingredients you measure when you’re cooking. It’s even in how you budget to save for your first car. When I was a kid, I didn’t realize that math was training my brain to solve these types of problems.