This year, the Olympics is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from August 5 to 21. This is the first time that any place in South America has hosted any Olympics. The Olympics offers a wonderful opportunity to integrate this topic into the math classroom. I do not know when your school year begins but my students begin around the middle of this time.
It seems like a great way to review some basics even for my upper level classes. The most obvious ways to use the math with the Olympics are:
1. Finding the rate traveled by the runners in various track and swimming events. Calculations could include a per sec, per min, per hour rate.
2 Keeping a percentage going of medals won by each country.
3. Graphing the results per event and overall.
4. Calculating results based on the number of team members and medals acquired and then graph the results.
5. Population of countries versus number of representatives or population of countries versus the number of medals won.
All of this information will be accessible via the internet. No longer do you have to wait for the results to hit the newspaper. They are now almost instantaneously available to all. So what are some other ways to use math in regard to the Olympics?
1. By using the results from this website, students can select one sport and one event to find the results over the years. Once they have the information, they can calculate rate of improvement over the years by various countries. For instance in looking at men's basketball, 1904 the first time it was played in the Olympics and the United States won. So by going through all the results from 1904 to 2012, they can find out how many times the United States won the gold, silver, or bronze medals and then make a graph showing the results.
2. If students look at the times for say the 100 meter race, they can find out how the wining times have improved over time. For instance the winner of the 1896 race ran it in 12 seconds while the winner in 2012 ran it in 9.63 seconds. That is about 2.5 seconds faster. These figure can be used to calculate percent increase in the race. They can also do a comparison between the Olympic and World records.
So more tomorrow on Math and the Olympics.