The Geometry of Field Day:
POSTS & RAILS Field Day is a competition made up of traditional track and field events. This includes events such as the high jump, long jump, shot put, distance races, and multiple other activities. The signature event consists of relays around a 200 yard oval track.
What people may not realize is that the geometry class spends a few days painting that oval track on our sports fields. To do this, we set two 50 yard straightaways, and two semi circles each 50 yards long. Students end up with a rectangle with semi circles at either end. But the center rectangle is so large, that to get a small error in measurement can really alter the lengths.
Many students have difficulties making the connection between the real-world and the classroom with math. Take the Pythagorean Theorem for example. It is one thing to see the equation on a whiteboard in the classroom, but taking it and applying it to lining the track is a totally different level of mastery. ~Mr. Funk, Upper School Math Teacher
The students use right triangles made by the Pythagorean Theorem to set the right angles, the formula for the circumference of a circle to find the radius, and try to measure as carefully as they can to lay out the track.
Real-World Applications: Geometry
Like in real life, they will have errors, and have to make corrections, they will need to double check and revisit parts of the project that might not be accurate on the first try. “Even the smallest difference can throw off the measurements by huge amounts,” comments Mr. Funk, an Upper School math teacher.
“I want them to not be afraid of the tools involved in math,” Mr. Funk continues. “That way they can apply it to the real world. I want them to be confident, even with such a large endeavor.”
Having a growth mindset and perseverance is key. “It’s okay to run into obstacles and understand that the measurements don’t always fit neatly on the first try.”
“The math skills are important, but it’s the ability to collaborate and problem-solve with peers that makes this project really come to life.” ~Mr. Funk, Upper School Math Teacher
“A lot of adults tend to have a love/hate relationship with math and I think the way we were taught math growing up plays a role in that mindset,” says Mr. Funk. “At the end of the day I want my students to not be afraid to take a risk with math. When they leave here I want them to have the confidence to take on any challenge in math – to be resourceful, to ask questions, think critically and take a risk.”