Numb3rs Activities

Numb3rs

In my math classes, I integrate the television show Numb3rs into my instruction to motivate and connect the students to real world mathematical concepts. Numb3rs, a TV series that was on the CBS network for six seasons, is about an FBI agent and his mathematical brother who use math to solve crimes. I have several activities that I have created for the various math courses that I have taught (I also included Simpsons and Goonies activities):

Unit 1+2 (intro to proofs) – NUMB3RS – Mind Games

Unit 3 (parallel lines) – Numb3rs – uncert principle

Unit 5 (transformations) – Numb3rs – graphic

Unit 6 (coordinate geometry) – Numb3rs – one hour

Unit 7 (various geometry topics) – Goonies Activity

Unit 7 (constructions & concurrency) – Numb3rs – burn rate

Unit 8 (solids) – Simpsons – 3d Homer

Unit 9 (logic) – Numb3rs – money for nothing

Unit 10 (circles) – Numb3rs – cause and effect

Numb3rs (scatterplots) – Sniper Zero (math 8)

GEO – Tri Proofs – NUMB3RS – Primacy

GEO – Coord Geo – NUMB3RS – Serial Rapist Hot Zone

ALG – Inequalities – Numb3rs – Blackout

GEO – Quads+Par – backscatter

ALG – Poly – Numb3rs – Janus List

ALG – Equ – Numb3rs – Hardball

*Geometry is the Regents level New York State course that most 10th graders are expected to take. Algebra/Geometry Connections is a course preparing students to be successful in Geometry.

A typical Numb3rs Activity follows the following format:

20 minutes: students watch the first half of episode
5-10 minutes: class discussion of the mathematical ideas in show
30 minutes: activity worksheet completed in cooperative groups
20 minutes: students watch the second half of episode
10 minutes: class discussion of activity

Click here for the template that you can give to students during the episode to help facilitate conversations.

Not only are students watching an attention-grabbing crime show, they are actively engaged in mathematical thought for 40 minutes. During the show, they are expected to write down mathematical ideas discussed in the show to share out later in class using this template. The activity worksheet is completed in cooperative groups; students work together to discuss the math involved in the episode and connect it to the Regents topics that are currently being studied.

The integration of these activities has greatly impacted student engagement and learning in my classroom. Students are more excited about coming to math class than they have in the past and their attendance has increased as a result. In addition, my Algebra/Geometry Connections classes went from a 56% passing rate on the Algebra Regents Exam to a 91% passing rate. I contribute this increase in part from the Numb3rs Activities. My students have stated that this motivational lesson helps them to pay attention and learn topics that they may not have shown any interest about in the past.

Feel free to use any of these activities in your classrooms. Please send me any questions or comments.

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  1. This is great!! Nice Work!

  2. Hi I just tried to look at some of your Numbers activities, but was led to a blank screen. Are they still available to see? Thanks.

  3. Hi Andy,
    These are amazing– thanks for sharing. Is it possible for you to post/email copies of the .pub files in another format like PDF? As there is no viewer for these (and I don’t have publisher) I am having trouble accessing them. Thanks!

  4. Someone can send me some pdf of this please, thank so much.
    rajendra974@hotmail.fr

  5. These worksheets are great! However, I am trying to open Backscatter and the link is opening to a blank screen? Could you send me the original file?

    Thank You!!

  6. Have you determined what episodes are appropriate for middle schoolers (limited violence, gore, swearing, and nudity)?

    • Sorry, I have not. Generally speaking, most of the activities that I have posted are either PG or PG-14. Although many have violence, few episodes have gore, swearing, or nudity.

  7. Julie Jennings

    These are great! Just the skill level and hook I need to engage my reluctant learners. Do you have answer keys available as well?

  8. Hi Andy,
    Do you have any ideas for pre-algebra students?

    Thanks!

    • I use many of the same Numb3rs activities with pre-algebra students, I just modify the content. In other words, many of the situations lend themselves to the Pre-Algebra level. I don’t have many saved.

  9. May I also have the two links that don’t work? Your worksheets are very relevant! -Marianne

  10. Can I get a copy of these sent to my email? I teach high school Geometry and would really like to use these in my classroom! Thanks!!

  11. I can’t access your lessons. It takes me to a page not found screen. I would love to get all of them. I’m doing ACT prep and this seems to be a great way to review some of the math required.

  12. I am not able to access the lesson plans, but love the series and would love to be able to use it in my classroom!

  13. Can I have a copy of the Numb3rs template and uncert principle activity. I cant find them here or on the other blog. thanks

  14. Hi! I tried to access your activities, but it kept telling me that they were not available. :/ Is there another way to access them??

  15. Could you email me all the lessons. I started to use them last year, but now I can’t access any of them!
    Thanks! My students really love these!

  16. Hi Andy, I just found your page after searching for episodes of Numb3rs that have math concepts accessible to high school students. I’d love to try some of these activities in my classroom but your links aren’t working for me. Do you still have files that you could send?
    Thanks!

  17. Hi, Andy! I am trying to access your Geometry activities for possible use in my 8th grade Geometry class. Would you be able to send me the Parallel and Perpendicular lines and Logic activities? Thank you!

  18. Stephanie Shaffer

    I cannot access these links. Could you please send me Mind Games and Burn Rate? THank you!

  19. I’m trying to see what your Graphic activity is but I can’t open it. Can you help me with that?

  20. Do you still have all of these activities? The links no longer work. I would love copies, if you don’t mind. Thank you!

    Amanda McGhee
    Mathematics/Science Teacher

  21. I am having trouble accessing the lesson as well. Can you email them to me Also. Particularly interested in the numbers parallel one. Thank you.

  22. Andy,

    I teach students with severe behaviors and I think this would work great in my consumer math class when talking about law enforcement careers! I am going to try showing the show next week. Would you happen to have an answer key for the numb3ers activities? I didn’t see one on your page.

  23. This is great. Could I also get an answer key?

  24. I used the Inequalities activity and my kids were incredibly engaged and completely the worksheet afterwards with zero pushback. They keep asking when we can watch another episode!

  25. Is there a way I can find a answer key

  26. do you have an answer key to:
    Unit 5 (transformations) “Graphic”
    Unit 6 (coordinate geometry) “One Hour”
    Unit 10 (circles) “Cause and Effect”

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