Teaching with the Web:
A Collection of Online Treasure Hunts and Webquests


Mathematics in the Games We Play: A Webquest for 1st & 2nd Year High School (Mathematics)

Authored by P. Arinto

Many young people associate mathematics with the classroom only. But mathematics is all around us. Why, it’s even in the games we play! And I don‘t mean mathematical games either. I mean the regular games Filipinos and many other people around the world play, such as basketball, baseball, bowling, archery, soccer, volleyball, and the like.

But where’s the math there, you may be asking. Well, we will find out through this webquest.

In this webquest you will investigate common ball games and field sports to find out how mathematics works in each of them. Working in groups, you will study one game to find out its history (how it started), you will describe in detail how it is played, and then you will identify the mathematical concepts that can be seen in the game. You will present this information, including illustrations of the game (drawings or photos), in the form of a report.

We will then submit your reports to the Mathematics Teachers’ Association of the Philippines so that they can use it in their mathematics promotions activities.

What you are expected to do in this webquest is not as difficult as it sounds. Just follow the steps below.

1. Your teacher will form you into groups of four or five members. Each group member will have a special role to play. Once you know who your group mates are, agree among yourselves on who will play which role. Be sure that each one chooses the role that is most suited to him/her (in terms of his/her abilities and interests). The roles are as follows:

Role Responsibility
(1 member)
· Do research on when and where the game or sport assigned to the group was first played, who popularized it, and early versions of the game or sport (if different from the present version); and
· Write Part 1 of the group report, which is on the history of the game or sport
Game Master
(1 member)
· Get information on how the game or sport is played, including the materials needed, number of players, rules, how to score, and so on; and
· Write Part 2 of the group report, which is the detailed description of the game or sport (if there is more than one version of the game or sport at present, the different versions should be described as well)
(1-2 members)

· Study the game or sport and identify the mathematical concepts that can be seen in how it is played; and
· Write Part 3 of the group report, which is a discussion of the mathematical concepts that can be seen in the game or sport (each concept will be identified and briefly defined and then how the concept can be seen in the game or sport will be briefly discussed)
Graphic Designer
(1 member)
· Collect photographs of the different aspects of the game or sport AND/OR draw/illustrate the different aspects of the game or sport; and
· Place the photos and/or drawings in the correct parts of the report (there should be at least 1 photo/drawing per part), and provide the appropriate caption for each

The game or sport you will study as a group will be assigned by your teacher at random (perhaps you will draw lots). Once you know which game or sport is assigned to your group and once everyone is clear about his/her role, begin the next step.

2. In this step, your group will do what is called background research. Here you will look at examples of descriptions of games or sports and their mathematical and scientific aspects so you will have a concrete idea of the kind of analysis that is expected of your group. The examples are taken from the World Wide Web. Your teacher will schedule a class session at the computer center for you to be able to view these examples. You may also refer to these examples from your home if you have a personal computer and connection to the Internet, or from an Internet café. The examples can be found in the following websites:

Some Number Facts Involving About Some Sports

Calculating a Baseball Player’s Batting Average

History in Sports

Sport Math

Biological Baseball

The Science of Surfing

The Science of Hockey

Skateboard Science

Science of Cycling

Ballpark Orientations (Geometry)

You have one week to complete this step.

3. Now you can do focused research on the game or sport assigned to your group. Sources of information include books, magazines, websites, and people who are experts in the sport. You can interview the latter not only for historical information but also for detailed information on how the game or sport is played.

Sources of photos and inspirations for drawings or illustrations also include books, magazines, and websites. Or you can rely on the detailed description of the game or sport and then draw it based on your understanding, and then you can have your drawings validated by people who know the game or sport or the people who play it.

The following is a website containing links to sports pages and recreation sites: http://www.northvalley.net/kids/sports.shtml. Search for websites on specific sports by using a search engine such as Yahoo or Google. Simply type your search word/phrase (for example, “history of basketball”, “how to play soccer”) on the search bar and then check out the links that turn up by clicking on them.

For the mathematicians in the group, there may be some written discussions of the mathematical aspects of the game or sport assigned to your group. But you are really expected to do the analysis yourself, without relying on written sources (there are probably very few of these anyway). You may also ask people who play the game or sport, or those who are experts at it, for their opinion on the mathematical aspects of the game or sport.

Your group must complete this step in the process in two weeks.

4. When you have all of the information you need, write your report. Remember that each member of the group is assigned one part of the report to write. While the other members are writing, the graphic designer should be finalizing the photos and/or drawings that will be included in the report and writing the captions.

You have two days to complete this step.

5.Meet as a group to show each other what you have written and to put the whole report together. Make sure that each member reads the part written by other members and that everyone makes a suggestion for improving all the parts of the report. Be guided by the checklist for how your group report will be scored (see the Evaluation section of this webquest).

When putting the group report together, make sure that the different parts flow into each other. Make use of the appropriate transition signals. Observe the rules of grammar. Provide an interesting introduction and conclusion. And make sure to list all references or sources of information used. The appropriate format for citing sources is discussed in this website: http://zonorus.marlboro.edu/~ewood/design1/fluquest/process/biblio.htm

Your teacher might decide to schedule a special class session for the different groups to be able to do this step. Because it will take several hours to complete the step, the special class session may be a Saturday at the computer center.

At the end of this special class session, you will submit your group report to your teacher.

Fill in the self-assessment form and peer evaluation form that your teacher will give you and then submit these on the due date.

Your group report will be scored using the following checklist:

Item Yes
(2 points)
(1 point)
(0 point)
1. Does the introduction provide an overview of the report?
2. Is the introduction written in an interesting way?
3. Is this part of the report written grammatically?
4. Is there proper use of punctuation?
5. Are words spelled correctly?
3. Is the date or period (not necessarily the exact date) when the game or sport was first played stated?      
4. Is the place where the game or sport originated from stated?
5. Are the people who popularized the game or sport identified? (Note: The reference need not be names of specific people; it can be a reference to a group of people like “ancient Filipinos.”)      
6. Are other necessary historical details provided?
7. Is this part of the report written grammatically?
8. Is there proper use of punctuation?
9. Are words spelled correctly?
10. Are the materials and/or equipment necessary for the game or sport to be played listed?      
11. Are the required game participants identified—that is, the number of players, other participants needed (such as an umpire, if teams how many teams)?
12. Are the rules of the game or sport presented?
13. Is the description clear—that is, the reader can imagine how the game or sport is played based on the description alone?
14. Is the description well organized?
15. Is this part of the report written grammatically?
16. Is there proper use of punctuation?
17. Are words spelled correctly?
18. Are there mathematical concepts identified?
19. Are the mathematical concepts identified defined or briefly explained?
20. Is there a clear explanation of how these math concepts can be observed in the game or sport?
21. Is this part of the report written grammatically?
22. Is there proper use of punctuation?
23. Are words spelled correctly?
24. Does the conclusion provide a satisfying close to the report?
25. Is this part of the report written grammatically?
26. Is there proper use of punctuation?
27. Are words spelled correctly?
28. Is a list of sources used provided?
29. Are the sources used listed in the proper format?

The perfect score for the group report is 58 points. The group report will account for 70% of your final grade for the webquest activity. Your score for the self-assessment will account for 15% and your score for the peer evaluation will account for another 15%.

So are you now convinced that mathematics is found even in the games we play? And do you appreciate sports better now that you know this? I hope so! And I hope that you learned a lot of skills in this webquest, including the lesson that to score well in any activity, you need to have teamwork and a commitment to doing your best every step of the way.