Education Technology

Field Goal vs. Ice Cream: The Ultimate Game Day Matchup

Posted 02/07/2022 by Cara Kugler, Instructional Content Manager, Texas Instruments

Four seconds left in the big game, and the score is 27-28 — you’re behind. A 50-yard field goal wins the game. Your task is to use a mathematical model to demonstrate kicking a field goal to win the game.

Wait … are you more into the celebration and all the hoopla (I mean all those snacks and commercials!) or the big game itself? Do you like to watch with a few friends, or a whole lot of friends? Do you play it safe and cheer for the “field goal” or always want your team to go for the touchdown?

No matter how you like to celebrate, the big game is quickly approaching, and it can be a great opportunity to get your students talking math and sports. And even food, if that’s more your thing. TI has engaging math and science lessons to bring a win to your classroom and set the stage for the big game coming up.

A real fan favorite: “Field Goal for the Win”
Can’t get much more relevant than this. This TI-84 Plus graphing calculator lesson is suitable for middle grades math through algebra II, and encourages students to model, explore and explain the mathematics behind kicking a football through the uprights.

“Field Goal for the Win” activity calculator screenshot.

In this activity, students will build reasoning skills by visualizing the flight of a field goal, observing relationships of time, distance and elevation, and discussing why the kick was good … or fell short.

Students can visualize the vertical and horizontal components of the flight of the ball and analyze each separately. This sets students up for exploring the question from multiple entry points.

You’ll need the program files, student activity pages, pre-assignment documents, and teacher notes and solutions to get started on the activity. All can be downloaded here. Go ahead, and get your students in the game! (You can also watch the on-demand webinar where we introduced this activity.)

“Ice Cream, Cool Science”
Now if you and your students are more all about the snacks and yummy eating on the big day, you may prefer a sweet alternative. And who doesn’t love a bowl of ice cream to celebrate a big win? I mean, if John Urschel (published mathematician and former professional football player) is into ice cream … and yes, we have proof he is! Check out the “Ice Cream, Cool Science” activity.

In this activity, students will explore states of matter and phase changes as well as the effects of temperature and pressure at the molecular level. At the end of the lesson, there is even an optional hands-on activity to explore freezing point depression. Get your students ready for the activity by sharing this fun video of Urschel churning up some tasty physics in your classroom.

The bottom line (or final score, in this case) …
When the final whistle is blown, we all hope our team is the big winner. And just like when the bell rings at the end of class, we hope we have engaged and motivated our students, connected their learning to their interests, hope it sticks, and may even just spark a new curiosity.

Happy game day celebrations! And don’t forget to save me a seat on the couch.

About the author: Cara Kugler currently works as the Instructional Content Manager at Texas Instruments. She has been with TI for over 16 years and works with educators to create content and resources to help both teachers and students get the most of TI technology in the classroom and at home. Prior to joining TI, she worked in educational publishing and actually started her career in education as a biology teacher. She enjoys the unique combination of getting to put her love for teaching and learning, technology and publishing as she manages the many activity websites TI offers. In her spare time, she spends her weekends on the soccer, baseball and lacrosse fields cheering on her two sons. She loves to travel with her family, and her happy place is the beach.