If math test scores increase at Naugatuck's Hillside School this year, it will be thanks in large part to an assist from LeBron James, or Diana Taurasi, or any number of professional basketball players.
For the first time this year, sixth-grade students in teacher Maureen Greene’s math class are playing a game called "NBA Math Hoops," which helps students brush up on their math skills while having fun in the process.
On Thursday, the students were engaged for more than an hour as they calculated player shooting percentages and other basketball statistics. The board game, which was provided free this year through a competitive application process, teaches and applies fundamental math skills. Students use real-world NBA and WNBA player data to compete against classmates in timed, simulated basketball games.
Here’s how it works:
- Teams of two or more students get seven players, and can use five of them on the court. They pick their player cards, which include statistical information about player performances from last year.
- Students roll dice to get two numbers. They then have 35 seconds to calculate what the two numbers equal when you add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers.
- They take one of the numbers and match it with a number on the board.
- Whichever player they have whose card color matches the color of that number on the board is chosen to "shoot."
- Each card has a shooting percentage depicted in a pie chart on the back. So if a player is a 75 percent field goal shooter, the pie chart will be three-quarters filled.
- They then spin a wheel around the pie chart and if the needle lands within the 75 percent “make” area, the team gets two points.
- The next team shoots.
The students, who play for one class period a week, figure out weekly and seasonal stats for each team and player. They make charts detailing their team and player successes. And they have fun doing it.
Greene obtained the NBA Math Hoops Classroom Kit at the beginning of this school year after applying through the NBA. After being denied a first time, she was told the application process was being extended and that she could reapply, which she did. She ended up winning, and so did the students.
The game was piloted last year in seven schools across the country. The NBA says it saw 51 percent increases in math scores on average after the pilot program.
This year, the NBA has put out roughly 500 classroom kits across the country.
"It's a fun way for us to learn math," said student Jacob Lopez.
See our video attached that shows how the students are taking to the game.