Last Updated: 07/10/2013*

Hockey Puck + Hockey Stick + 30 Degree Angle = Goal

Raytheon engineers teamed up with LA Kings players to demonstrate to high school students the application of geometry to the game of hockey. Learn more about the math that drives a perfect goal.

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Hudson Boys & Girls Club Project

Problem: How can shot performance in basketball be improved?

Hypothesis: Performance can be affected by accuracy and precision. Maximizing both parameters provides the highest performance level.

Procedure: The Hudson Boys & Girls Club in Massachusetts measured accuracy and precision by using the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the distance from target center (accuracy) and distance from the calculated center of a series of shots (precision). Then they compared the resulting data to the conditions that were set up to develop the conclusions.

Conclusion: The team determined that shot performance (precision and accuracy) can be improved by shooting from an optimal distance of ? and by shooting at an optimum angle of ? degrees.

The team started by creating this model catapult.
The team started by creating this model catapult.

It’s summer, and millions of students have traded in the classroom for ball fields and courts, leaving school books far behind.

In a recent Washington Post article titled “The cure for summer brain drain: live a little,” Gary Huggins, Chief Executive of the National Summer Learning Association says, “studies show that kids lose as much as two to three months of math and reading skills over the summer.” He goes on to say, “Summer is great as a break from school, but it doesn’t have to be a break from learning.”

Parents can keep learning alive this summer for their children by breeding curiosity and demonstrating that math and science are all around them – even in the sports they play.

Three middle school boys engrossed in their project as they prove their hypothesis – showing the
science of sports.
Three middle school boys engrossed in their project as they
prove their hypothesis – showing the science of sports.

This summer, Raytheon’s MathMovesU program is challenging students to consider the science and math behind their favorite sporting event. Raytheon is taking to Facebook and Pinterest to encourage parents to help their students think about science in a new light. Throughout the summer, questions and experiments will be posted on MathMovesU's Facebook and Pinterest pages to encourage students to explore the science of sports, amusement parks, food and more.

What kids may not realize as they swing the bat or jump off the diving board is they are applying math and science principles.

For every sports challenge there is a hypothesis waiting to be proven:

  • What is the best angle for a high diver to hit the water to minimize the splash?
  • How hard should a tennis ball be hit to move past an opponent but stay in bounds?
  • At what speed should a skateboarder descend the half-pipe to get air, perform a kick-flip and land successfully?

By challenging students to think about the science and math behind the sports they love, parents create real learning opportunities.

Each year, Raytheon and the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation challenge students from the New England Boys & Girls Clubs to explore math and science in competitive sports. “We were very surprised to see what a big role science plays in sports,” said Brandon Mahoney from the Billerica, Mass., team.

When asked what he likes best about math and science, Michale Cerullo from the Woburn team said, “It’s a fun, universal language; it applies to everything and it explains sports!”

Follow MathMovesU and explore the science of sports with the young people in your life to help develop and sustain an interest in math and science – even in the summer months.



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