Friday, February 7, 2014

Figuring The Skating Math - Watching & Teaching The Sochi Olympics

Source: NBC News
Figure skating quadrennially ranks as the most popular winter Olympic event. Especially on this 20th anniversary of the Lillehammer foofaraw between Kancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, skating has taken on a renewed prominence thanks to the addition of the team medal competition. Despite the athleticism and grace of the Sochi 2014 skaters, the sport itself has alienated some viewers with its rejiggered scoring system. The familiar 6.0 perfect result has been replaced with a complex calculus involving stylistic interpretations in the hundreds.

Source: NBC News
In figure skating, the revised formula offers terrific avenues for math, science, and humanities classes to use problem-solving quickness in trying to calculate the winning scores in tandem with the judges. Essentially, the scoring puzzle creates a lively opportunity for kids in STEM courses to divine the result based on artistry and athleticism.

A motion graphic from NBC News presents a lucid and gratifying explanation of the new scoring system in a visually riveting style. The excellent clip, "How To Grab Skating Gold: It's All About Math," parades the nuances of the current ratings in a catchy, textured animation. This stylized video choreographs a paper-cutout, stop-motion vignette to articulate the complexity of the skating rubric. On a design level, it is masterful. On a teaching level, it is eye-catching and appealing to kids of all ages. It would be great to share in a class or to post on a communal blog to let children become more informed and media literate consumers of February's season of sport.

Fortunately, the Olympics offers invaluable outlets for teaching and learning. To incorporate the 2014 Sochi Games into the classroom, you might consider these helpful posts of resources and ideas:


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