We’re going to build on an idea we discussed about math and baseball a few weeks ago on this blog, which was to use passion as fuel for learning. As we’ve mentioned before, lessons can be more effective when they are paired with a fun activity. So today, we’ll explore the idea of using bowling to teach math to students.
It’s easy to think of bowling as a strictly recreational activity. But bowling teaches students arithmetic, geometry and many other mathematical principles.
How to teach students arithmetic using bowling
Bowling relies on math to keep track of the scores during a game. All you need to do is look at a scorecard and this will become apparent. Probably the most basic method of using bowling to teach students math is showing students the score system. Filling out a scorecard requires sharp arithmetic, particularly addition and subtraction. There are a number of intricacies to tallying up points — or pins, as bowlers like to call them — which require a bit of study.
If you look at a scorecard, you’ll see 10 frames. Each frame denotes one round. If you don’t get a strike or spare, you get two opportunities to knock down the pins during each frame, or round. Every pin is worth one point.
When you hit all of the pins in your first roll, that’s called a strike. Strikes are scored as a 10, which is the maximum number of pins that can be knocked down. This is written as an X on the score sheet. If you get a strike, you still get two chances to knock down 10 pins. So at most, you can get 30 points per round, because 10+10+10 = 30.
If it takes you two rolls to hit all 10 pins down, that’s called a spare, and it’s written on the card as a ‘/’. You will still get a third roll. The best score you can get while with a spare is 20, because the first two rolls will be 10, plus an additional 10 on your third roll.
If you don’t get a strike or a spare, then you only get two rolls during your frame, or round. Simply add up the pins that you knocked down. For example, 3 pins during the first roll plus 3 during the roll afterwards is 6 for the round.
Using bowling to teach math to students can be fun!
Now it’s time to head over to the bowling alley! Ask your students to play a game, and make sure everyone gets a chance to keep score. Every time a student rolls the ball, ask the kids how many pins were knocked down. Ask them to use addition and subtraction to come up with the score for each frame. Quiz them on how strikes or spares can change the score. Ask them what a ‘perfect’ game scores like (answer: it’s (10+10+10) x 10 = 300). Make it a group learning activity!
Relate bowling to a ‘real’ math lesson
The next step is to show kids how their new bowling-scoring skills relate to math assignments. If children get stuck on an arithmetic problem, show them that doing addition and subtraction is no different from scoring a game of bowling!
Many teachers may be pleasantly surprised to notice their students’ adding and subtracting skills improve!
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