As teachers and parents, we have to find ways to present old lessons to kids in new ways. That’s what helps keeps students interested and engaged in learning. Education can be greatly enhanced if you can find a way to present a concept using something a student can be interested in. Sports often happen to be a point of interest for many kids! So today we’re going to examine how you can teach students statistics using baseball.
How are baseball and statistics related?
Baseball, like many other sports, keeps track of player and team performances using statistical measures. We’ll briefly go over a few below and later give suggestions on how you can teach students statistics using baseball.
Batting average — This is calculated by dividing the number of hits by the total number of bats.
The formula is: hits/bats.
W-L (Win-Loss) percentage: This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s the percentage of games a player or team has won.
The formula is: Number of games won/ Number of games played.
Earned Run Average (ERA) — This number measures how good a pitcher is. An ‘earned run’ means the batter made it to home base because of their skill — not because of a fielding error or a passed ball. ‘Fielding errors’ are essentially mistakes made by people playing in the field. ‘Passed balls’ describes a mistake made by the catcher at home plate.
The formula is: (Earned Runs/Innings Pitched) x 9.
We multiply by nine because a baseball game lasts nine innings. This last step is important, because if you don’t multiply it by nine, you’re getting the amount of earned runs per inning, not per game.
Harnessing passion can help us teach students statistics using baseball
So now that we’ve gone over a few rudimentary statistical measures used in baseball, it’s time to apply them to a math lesson. The best way to introduce this is by getting students to pick a player or team they like. Ask them how they would calculate the statistics. Then give them the proper formulas and explain the reasoning behind them.
The great thing about this approach is that it can immediately engage a student’s interest. When you use an interest they are passionate about — in this case baseball — as a motivator, children often learn faster.
So they’ve figured out stats for their favourite teams — now what?
This is the exciting part. Present them with some math questions. For example, ask them to calculate a simple percentage based on a grade they received. For example, if they got 9/10 questions right on a test, ask them what the percent is.
Some of them will probably say they don’t know how to do it. But then you can smile and tell them they actually do! Tell them calculating a W-L percentage is the exact same thing!
Same goes for the other formulas. Give them problems that mirror the reasoning you find in the baseball stats. Both you and the students might be pleasantly surprised to see patterns in baseball stats emerging in math problems!
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