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Baseball by the numbers

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September 26, 2012 - Ortonville- Summer officially ended last week and as fall begins, baseball season is also quickly drawing to a close, with a tight race between the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox for the top spot in the American League Central Division.

At Brandon Fletcher Intermediate School, teachers took advantage of baseball fever to give sixth grade students a hands-on lesson in mathematics.

On Sept. 25, students gathered outside in the sunshine to partake in a Home Run Derby and learn about fractions, decimals and percentages as they worked on their batting averages.

The derby was preceded by a recent in-class assignment where students used batting averages of Detroit Tigers players and compared the number of singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, then calculated their statistics using fractions, decimals and percentages.

"It went well, but some kids weren't connected, because they don't play or watch baseball, and we wanted the kids to have a more personal experience and make the activity more authentic," said Jennifer Smith, explaining why she and the other sixth grade math teachers organized the Home Run Derby. "The gamble with an educational activity like this is always the amount of time it takes, but I am betting this authentic activity pays off, because my kids will internalize this. It will be something they don't forget."

Each child took a turn at bat, and chalk lines on the soccer field denoted whether hits qualified as a single, double, triple or home run. Each hit was recorded so the students could compile their statistics once back in the classroom.

"This was a lot of fun," said Vinny Bills, 11. "They pitch you 10 balls and if you hit six, your average is 60 percent... We got to go outside and get exercise and it helped me focus, instead of being bored. Now when I go inside, I'm ready to learn."

Brooke Kilyk, also 11, agreed.

"I was playing softball and it ended awhile ago and I was sad," she said. "I think (the home run derby) will help me improve turning numbers into decimals and percentages. It was always so hard for me and now I feel like I will get it."

Smith hopes that is the case.

"We want them to feel math is fun," she said. "If we make math all about worksheets and calculators, they don't remember it."

Staff Writer
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