An NCAA Bonanza

Lake Michigan, electricity, distance from the Sun to Jupiter, acres of the U.S.  What do they have in common?  They are different projects we are connecting to the NCAA tournament.

Last week we started our NCAA projects.  We started out by looking at some infographics on March Madness.  The kids went to a page (March Madness) on my website to find all the information.  We spent our first day talking basketball and information about the tournament.   We made a list of questions that the kids were interested in solving.  This was a fun day.  I am always amazed how much the kids don't know about the tournament.

Here are some of the better projects we are solving:

Two involve creating a formula to find either the best team in the tournament or which region is the toughest.  The kids had to figure out what was important to judging the teams.  Then they weighted each portion.  They created their formulas and found the stats.  Then they plugged in the numbers and are ranking their findings.

We learned that there are more than 9 quintillion possible combinations in a 64 team tourney.  This got their brains really rolling.  These are fun ones to talk about. The kids then had to find what math to solve to get to their question.  Here is a list of our questions.

If every possible bracket combination were filled out:
How many would it take to go around the sun?
Could they fill up Lake Michigan?
Would it go between the Sun and Jupiter?
How many acres will it cover and what state or country is close to that?
Is there even enough paper in the world?

Three other interesting questions were:

How much electricity is used to watch all the tournament games?
How far the heights of every player in the tourney will reach and show something similar in size?
How far the shoe sizes of every player in the tourney will reach and show something similar  in size?

The kids are having a blast.  Now that we have been doing project/inquiry based projects the kids are really getting good at them.  They find information on their own.  They apply the correct math procedures that they figure out on their own.  One thing I have learned is to have the kids justify every number, either by showing a calculation or a screenshot of where that information came from.

The one major assessment piece I have learned is that if the kids are not held accountable during a project they get lost along the way.  So every day we use this sheet (March Madness the 2nd page) to have the kids specifically list what they accomplished for each day.  They have to justify the grade they deserve.  Then we will grade out on the final project and average out for a final grade. 

It's three days before spring break and we are not just trying to survive.  The kids are even coming up with new questions and trying to solve them without even being prodded. Curiosity is taking over and it is fun to watch.

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