5-e classroom stem activity

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5-e classroom stem activity
5-E CLASSROOM STEM ACTIVITY:
BRACKETOLOGY AND MARCH MADNESS: PREDICTING THIS YEAR’S BRACKET
Dr. Candace Walkington, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education
Southern Methodist University
COVER STORY // STATISTICS & ANALYTICS
HOW TO STATISTICALLY WIN YOUR MARCH MADNESS BRACKET
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March Madness is a college basketball legendary time that
takes over the national sports world from the second week
of March into the first week of April. It is supported by the
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s
and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. These tournaments
determine the national champions of college basketball.
20 WINTER 2015 // STEMJOBS.COM
Odds of picking
a perfect bracket:
approximately
9.2 quintillion to 1.
HOW TO STATISTICALLY WIN YOUR MARCH MADNESS BRACKET
Where’s your stats
game at, bro?!
Stats-ketball shoes
22 WINTER 2015 // STEMJOBS.COM
During March Madness,
fans everywhere put together their predictions on
a bracket of the teams they
expect to go all the way
to the Sweet 16, the Final
Four and eventually win
the national championship.
These brackets are fun and
competitive and make for
an even more entertaining
March Madness.
Here at STEM Jobs, we
know the importance that
statistics plays in filling out
your brackets. While guessing which team will win by
which colors you like best
or which mascot would
beat the other is amusing, if
you actually want to win, it
all comes down to the stats.
We spoke to a stats
expert from ESPN and he
gave us the 411 on filling
out our bracket this year,
so keep reading if you
want to blow away your
friends with your awesome
predictions and great skills
this season.
Jeff Bennett is a Sr.
Director II with ESPN’s
Stats & Information Group.
He oversees the Production Analytics Team and
the Production Research
Department. The Analytics Team developed Total
QBR, an evaluation tool for
NFL quarterbacks, and the
Basketball Power Index,
a team-rating system for
men’s college basketball. Bennett won four Sports
Emmy Awards for his role
as the lead researcher on
ESPN’s SportsCenter and
Baseball Tonight studio
shows from 1996-2003.
Prior to joining ESPN in
1994, Bennett graduated
from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1994 with
a bachelor’s degree in
Applied Mathematics. Here are some tips from Jeff himself:
“When the bracket is released for Selection Sunday on the 2nd or 3rd in March
at 6 p.m., take a night to sleep on it. Fill in
what you know like the easier teams that
are a sure win but then give it a few hours
to really think about your choices.
“Follow it closely, where teams are
slotted surprises.
“Use a Basketball Power Index, which
predicts team events and what the numbers say about how they are seeded and
who has a higher chance. You can find
these online.
“Just because a team is seeded higher
does not necessarily mean that it is the
best team. Look at their stats by game
points, such as how much they usually
win by. If they are winning by a lot of
points every time, that is a good indication that they are going to go far.”
Get a job
at ESPN in
Statistics
& Analysis
Bennett also said to keep in mind that
not all four No. 1 seeds make the final
four. Sometimes no teams that were
seeded at one make it at all, like in 1979,
but there’s usually a couple.
“I won’t go all top seeds in any round,
I like to mix,” said Bennett. “Play safe in
early rounds. I don’t predict upsets but
sometimes you can tell when a team
is just better at scoring, and that’s the
team to go for.”
At ESPN, there are a lot of predictive
systems to help seed teams that Bennett uses. However, it is all public data
and can be found online. You can use the
predictive systems or put the information together yourself and statistically
analyze which are the best teams.
These are all things that you can
learn from your statistics classes and
then use toward your bracket, such as
subjective evaluation for seeding. Seeded teams win more games than lose on
average but it can be misleading with
their win and loss records because it
doesn’t take into consideration by how
many points. It is definitely something
to keep in mind when choosing teams.
“You have to look and see if they’re
winning games by a lot. It most often
carries forward and those teams do
better,” said Bennett.
With 350 college basketball teams it
can be hard to keep track of all of it, but
if you love statistics there’s no reason
you can’t put all your STEM knowledge
to work for your bracket and impress
your friends with STEM!
Just
because
a team is
seeded
higher
does not
necessarily
mean that
it is the
best team.
There are full-time and part-time
jobs for seasonal college sports,
and positions available in the Stats
and Analysis Team at ESPN.
STATS ANALYST
PRODUCTION RESEARCH
This position includes scoring games, taking in data, ensuring
all data is accurate and then seeding all of the teams. Gathering
information about data and looking for good story lines in statistics which can be broadcasted and shared on ESPN networking channels is also part of the job.
Takes info, such as quality of shots and where they get their
points from, and puts it in context for the production team
to broadcast.
STEMJOBS.COM // WINTER 2015 23
5-E CLASSROOM STEM ACTIVITY:
BRACKETOLOGY AND MARCH MADNESS
Here are some ideas for how high school teachers could use this story as a
launching point for integrated STEM learning. Our activities follow the 5-E Learning
Cycle Model, and the activity below is intended to last three to four 1-hour class
periods (although portions of the activity could be used in shorter time periods).
Part 1: Engage
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Pose the following questions: How are numbers used when playing sports? What sports statistics do you
know about? Why are sports statistics useful? How are they used? What jobs do you think knowing about
sports statistics would be important for?
Have your class read the STEM JobsSM article “How to Statistically Win Your March Madness Bracket.”
Pose the following questions: How many teams will be included in the NCAA tournament? What does it
mean to get an automatic bid versus being “at large”? What are “seeds” in the NCAA Tournament? How do
seeds differ from the s-curve rankings or “true seeds”? How is the s-curve used to keep each region balanced?
What team statistics are used to assign seeds for the NCAA Tournament? What is a “bubble team?”
(Note: see entertainment.howstuffworks.com/science-to-bracketology1.htm
and ncaa.com/content/di-principles-and-procedures-selection)
Have the class watch the following video: espn.go.com/video/clip?id=12314671
Ask students: What are the 4 statistics being discussed in the video? Which do you think is most important?
Most informative? What mathematical procedures are used to calculate BPI and RPI?
Part 2: Explore
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Download copies of 2015’s fillable March Madness bracket after Selection
Sunday from a site like printyourbrackets.com. Print copies for your students.
Put the students in groups of 4, and then give each group the following task:
Your group is going to compete with other groups in the class by filling out a bracket for the March Madness games.
Your group has two major tasks:
First, you much research relevant statistics (including BPI and RPI) for each of the 68 teams in order to fill out your
bracket. Keep in mind the tips that you read about in the STEM Jobs SM article, and also feel free to do more research
on strategies for filling out brackets. Be ready to defend your bracket choices to the class based on statistics.
See espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/rpi/_/sort/RPI and espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/bpi.
Second, you must create a short bracketology “How To” PowerPoint to show to your classmates. The PowerPoint must:
• Describe how RPI is calculated, and show the calculation carried out for a specific team.
You do not need to use all games that team has played this season – use only their last 5-8 games.
See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rating_Percentage_Index.
• Compare RPI to other measures like BPI and Strength of Schedule.
You do not need to calculate these other measures, but you should discuss how they are different from RPI.
See espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/7561413/bpi-college-basketball-power-index-explained.
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Bracketology and March Madness: Predicting This Year’s Bracket
Part 3: Explain
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Have each group present their PowerPoint to the class, and then present their bracket.
Questions to ask while students are presenting PowerPoint: Why use RPI/BPI instead of a
simple win-loss ratio? What was hard to understand about the RPI calculation? What are
some shortcomings of RPI? Why do you think RPI is so commonly used?
Questions to ask while presenting bracket: How many games are played in the NCAA
tournament, if we assume 64 teams? What sports statistics did you think were most
important when you made your bracket? What if we compared two of the teams playing each
other in your bracket using cbssports.com/collegebasketball/bracketology/team-comparison—
what in this comparison did your group pay the most attention to?
Pose the following issue to the class: How do you think our brackets should be scored?
Should guessing one of the first-round winners correctly count the same amount as guessing
the winner of the championship game correctly?
Have students read the following article: aseaofblue.com/2014/3/6/5477590/scoring-yourtournament-brackets, and use class discussion to settle on a system for scoring their brackets.
Part 4: Elaborate
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Ask students to come up with responses to the following scenarios in groups:
a. How many different ways are there to select 68 teams for the NCAA tournament from the total of
350 teams? Note that the answer does not need to be fully worked out—it can be in factorial form.
b. What would your chances be of getting a perfect bracket predicted in the NCAA tournament
if there were only 4 teams in the bracket? Explain your answer.
c. What are your chances of getting a perfect bracket predicted in the NCAA tournament for
a bracket containing 64 teams? Explain your answer. Note that the answer does not need to
be fully worked out—it can be in exponential form.
d. Are these really the probabilities of getting a perfect bracket? What do these probabilities
assume? How much do you estimate your chances would increase if you used knowledge of sports
statistics to select your bracket?
e. If everyone in U.S. filled out a bracket, and everyone used knowledge of sports statistics to do so,
what do you estimate would be the probability of someone in the U.S. selecting a perfect bracket?
Show students the following video which supplies the answers to the above:
youtube.com/watch?v=O6Smkv11Mj4
Ask students: What surprised you in the video? What do you still want to know about selecting
brackets and probability?
Part 5: Evaluate
Have students complete the following assignment prompt in their math journal:
Conduct some research on your own about how numbers, statistics or probability calculations
are used in a sport or activity that you are interested in. Describe some of the relevant statistics,
how they are calculated and how they are useful to people interested in this sport or activity.
Next Generation Science Standards:
CCSS.Math.Content.HSN.Q.A.2. Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.
CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.IC.B.6. Evaluate reports based on data.
CCSS.Math.Content.HSS.MD.B.7. Analyze decisions and strategies using probability concepts.
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Bracketology and March Madness: Predicting This Year’s Bracket