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):
*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
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.