This slam-dunk activity will promote friendly competition within your classroom, promote conversations about higher-education choices of the future, and get students excited about math as it engages them in learning while having good-spirited fun!
The month-long activity is a mathematical competition amongst your students involving rational numbers (integers), a simplistic algebraic expression, and the NCAA Division I (Men's or Women's) National Basketball Championship that takes place every March. The madness that takes place during the month-long tournament will get students excited about mathematics using a real-world context.
I use this activity as a project-based integer enrichment, but it can easily be done as a stand-alone mathematical activity. Students DO NOT need to have any knowledge of basketball to participate and do well. All that is required is a basic understanding that a twelfth-ranked team is typically not as good as a third-ranked team (and so on), and the team ranked better will more often than not win. However, the tournament is affectionately referred to as March Madness, and the "madness" happens when those teams that are not supposed to win upset a team that had a higher rank.
As the tournaments progress, students accumulate and record points for victories of teams they have selected from the field of 64, however, they earn no points when their chosen teams lose. Once a team has lost, no more points can be accumulated from that particular team. Students cannot replace teams that have lost, and thus point-accumulation begins to dwindle for all students as the tournament progresses.
I typically assign a day of the week (usually Friday) for calculating total points. The students each week will need an updated tournament bracket, which can easily be found on many different websites (Yahoo!, CBS Sports, etc.), or my store within the TpT site (March Madness Tournament Brackets and Point Chart-2018
). I will be posting a free updated point-total for each of the participating NCAA teams on a weekly basis. Last year's March Madness Tournament Brackets and Point Chart-2017
is still available as a freebie in the my TpT store, so feel free to check it out as somewhat of an additional demo copy of this activity.
This project lends itself well to tracking points using either Microsoft Excel or Numbers for those interested in technology standards. A detailed lesson plan with background information and management suggestions, along with accompanying student sheets are included with this file.
Your students are certain to have a blast with this project, and it never hurts to get kids talking about higher education. Don’t be surprised if former students come back for more “mathematical madness” in the years to come!
This zip file includes:
NCAA March Madness Mathematical Challenge (2018).pdf
NCAA March Madness Mathematical Challenge 2018 (TpT).notebook
NCAA March Madness Mathematical Challenge 2018.ppt
Let the craziness begin!