Game Inventors: Statistics Made Fun

Version 3

    By Vicki Davis


    Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher is a full-time teacher, the author of the book Reinventing Writing, and the host of “Every Classroom Matters” on the BAM Radio Network. Helping students understand statistics and what they mean in the real world can be a challenge. Tablets let us take some lessons that used to be done in two parts and combine them into a single learning experience. This lesson takes my middle-school math-teaching sister’s favorite “old” lesson and uses tablets.


    Step 1. Set the Stage

    Students love competitions. For this project, divide students into teams of 10.


    Tell students that their job is to create a new competition and that each of them will have a score-tracking sheet to keep up with how they do. Prepare an Excel workbook with formulas to download from your OneDrive or shared location. It should include name, mean, median, mode, and range for the number of shots students got right as well as a percentage accuracy (if you have gotten to that point in your curriculum). Students should download the spreadsheet onto their tablets. You can do this where not every student has one, but it is preferred that they all have a spreadsheet so that they can see the statistics in action and understand what they mean.


    Step 2. Go to the Game

    Go to a location that has balls or other things you can use to create a contest. (My sister used to take them to a basketball court, and she would take along paper and trash cans so they could make crumpled-paper contests as well.)


    Tell students that they each have to invent a game that has not been played before. It should involve at least 10 shots by each player. They should name their games. For example, Jimmy may invent the “between the legs and into the trashcan” game, where students should bounce a ball between their legs and into the trashcan. Remember that the task should be doable, and the creator should successfully demonstrate how to do it.


    The creator should type everyone’s name in the spreadsheet and then watch students as they try the game and count how many successful attempts they made versus how many total attempts. The creator should track the game for all 10 players.


    Students should create a game but should also play the games of the others on their team so that everyone plays every game for their team. If you don’t have much time, students can invent just one game per team, but all students should record the results on their tablets so that they can see the results change.


    Step 3. Guide through the First Game

    As they type in their first numbers, point out how the spreadsheet is totaling them: mean, median, mode, and range (percentages optional). This should be visible as they are typing in the data so that they can see it updating automatically. You may want the tablet to be in portrait mode so that students can see the changing results.


    Step 4. Compare the Games Based on the Stats

    When you go back to the classroom, ask students to save their spreadsheets to the shared drive (or e-mail them to you), using their last name and the name of their game as the file name.


    Ask about the word stats and what it means in various sports. (You will likely have some baseball or football fans who can give you insights.)


    Bring up the results on your projector as you discuss each game. Track the games and the mean accuracy, median, mode, and range to discuss the value of the game. Which game is the hardest? Which is the easiest? Which student is the best at each game?


    Extension into Twenty-First-Century Skills and Graphing

    You could extend this lesson by teaching students how to graph their results on the spreadsheets.


    Take Data Collection out of the Classroom

    This is an excellent example of how you no longer have to take measurements outside the classroom and then go back to see the final results—tablets in hand let learning go everywhere as you engage your bodily kinesthetic learning styles and break the monotony of being in the same place all the time.


    This lesson plan is brought to you by Intel Education. Follow Intel Education (IntelEDU) on Twitter for more great lesson plans and ideas like this one.