Olympic Diving & Math

Olympic Diving
A Fantastic Opportunity for Real World Application of Mathematics

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Every Olympic year I consider nationalistic fervor a great tool to help me teach a little math.

1. Record an Olympic diving event to whichever medium is convenient for you e.g. video, dvd, perhaps Youtube

2. Outline the scoring method to the students - i.e. discard the highest and lowest scores - add the remaining numbers together - multiply by the degree of difficulty. This will give you the score for the dive.

E.g. if the judges award 8.5, 8, 8.5, 9 & 9.5 - discard the 8 & the 9.5 - then add 8.5, 8.5 & 9 which gives 26. Next multiply 26 by how had the dive is. If the Degree of Difficulty (DD) is 3.4 then you multiply 26 by 3.4 meaning that the final score for the dive would be 88.4

3. Play a dive then stop it and write up the judge's scores. Have the students calculate their scores in pairs with a calculator. Then continue the video and have the students self confirm their answers.

4. Once the students get the hang of this part you can talk a little about the marking criteria for the dive and see if they can get close to the judge's initial scores

- approach
- height above board
- how good the acrobatics were
- toes pointed = good
- feet touching = good
- no splash = high points
- ripples = lower points
- diver straight up and down on entry to water = good

You might be surprised how good the students get at this.

5. Discuss why the highest and lowest scores are discarded. Take not of which judges have their scores disallowed. Are there any patterns happening here? :)

6. Extension - Is there a great deal of difference between taking an average of all five scores and multiplying by the degree of difficulty verses the Olympic scoring method? Devise an investigation that will help us work out the answer to this problem. Present your findings to an audience.

NB In the Youtube video above the scoring is done differently as there are seven judges. The highest and lowest scores are still eliminated and the remaining numbers added but then this number is multiplied by 3/5 and then multiplied by the degree of difficulty.

Hint - label your media clearly so you can find it next year and then remember to record a new video each Olympic year :)

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