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Updated Numb3rs Activities


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.

Differentiated Circle Geometry Lesson Video

Lisa Gross and Monica O’Brien co-taught an engaging review lesson for a Geometry unit on Circles.  In this lesson, Gross and O’Brien differentiate using a combination of the parallel and alternative models of co-teaching.  Students were grouped based upon their most recent formative assessment.  The groups were as follows: an independent Castle Learning group, a mostly independent worksheet group, a guided worksheet group, and a highly guided worksheet group.  The guided groups were assisted by Mrs. O’Brien and a student in the class who has mastered the material.  Mrs. Gross rotated throughout all groups to ensure high quality work and to answer questions that came up.

A video summary of this highly engaging differentiated lesson is below:

Using the Movie “The Goonies” in Geometry

In my Geometry classes, I use the movie “The Goonies” as a fun and engaging activity to review topics toward the end of the school year.  This is an example of using math AND the movies.  There is not necessarily direct mathematics explained in the movie, but the movie can be used for its interesting scenarios, challenging students to think about math in different ways.

In “The Goonies,” a group of kids embark on a wild adventure after finding a pirate treasure map.  Using their your knowledge of the movie and mathematics, they need  to answer specific math questions.

The format of the lesson (and worksheet) can be found by clicking the following link: Geometry: GOONIES ACTIVITY – Logic, Locus, Solids, and Coordinate Geo

In this lesson, students watch a series of clips from the movie (a few minutes each) to hook them into the problems and answer related state test questions.  The actual DVD start and stop times are written on the worksheet.

Sample of the Goonies Activity

I hope you enjoy the lesson.  Please comment below.

Using “The Simpsons” to Teach Solids

In my Geometry classes, I use the television show “The Simpsons” to teach volume and surface area. In the 10 minute episode titled 3D Homer, Homer goes into a world filled with Geometric solids.  In the episode, Patty and Selma visit the Simpson family and Homer, desperate to avoid them, looks behind a bookcase and enters an eerie new world in which everything is in 3D.

The format of this lesson is as follows:

  1. Have the students watch the 10 minute episode.  It is part of their annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween shows (e-mail me if you want the clip).  You may want to have student write down math related things they see in the show.
  2. Discuss the episode and the math topics.
  3. Have students work in groups (or individually) on the SIMPSONS ACTIVITY WORKSHEET.  The tasks of the activity include naming 3D solids in the episode, calculating the height of a pond in the 3D world, and finding the volume, lateral area, and surface area of various solids.
  4. Discuss and/or collect the activity.

I hope you enjoy the lesson.  Please comment below.

8th Grader is Double Accelerated in Math

Athena Middle School 8th grade student Xiaoning Guo has been double accelerated in math.  Based on his proficiency score on the Scholastic Math Inventory and overall math average, Xiaoning was recommended for this challenge.  He will take both Regents Integrated Algebra and Regents Geometry at the same time.  Participation in this double accelerated math will allow him to take additional math classes in high school or begin dual credit courses at an earlier date.  Mrs. Dionisio, Mrs. Gross, and Mrs. Obrien have been working with Xiaoning to provide him with a successful and enriching math experience.

We are proud of Xiaoning accomplishments in mathematics and willingness to undertake this challenge.

Authentic Assessment for Logic

Mrs. Gross used to create an authentic assessment for her students.  Xtranormal is a free website that allows its users to create their own animated videos.  A user simply types the dialogue between two characters and the website does the rest.  Mrs. Gross used this concept to assess her Geometry students on the topic of logic.  The task given to the students was to complete a logic movie that displays knowledge of the various topics of logic.  Her students were very creative in their projects and demonstrated their understanding of logical reasoning in a fun and different way.

According to the Xtranormal website, teachers can:

  • Enhance their lessons with a movie
  • Have students create their own movie
  • Get access to an entire library of characters and sets

The rubric that was used to grade the assignment is below:






The movie is not complete.

The movie has 1 example of logic statements.

The movie has at least 2 examples of logic statements.


The movie is not descriptive.

The movie gives fair examples and explanations of the logic topics.

The movie gives clear examples and explanations of the logic topics.


The work in this movie has many errors.

Most of the work in this movie is correct.

All work in this movie is correct.


Click on the links below to see some sample Logic projects from Mrs. Gross’ class:

Using the ENGAGING Framework, this lesson demonstrates the use of Active Learning and Authentic Assessment.  Students in Mrs. Gross’ class were engaged in an activity that allowed them to demonstrate their knowledge of logic by a performance of understanding.  They participated in creating an authentic video to help them explain the concepts of converse, inverse, and contrapositive.

Mr. Mock Teaches Numb3rs Geometry

Mr. Mock showed students real world application of Geometry using the TV Show “Numb3rs.”  Mr. Mock used a similar format from an earlier post.  In the Parallel and Perpendicular Lines unit, he used the “Uncertantly Principle” activity.  The context of the activity is that Mathematics professor Charlie Eppes is looking at a series of bank robberies to determine who is responsible and where they will strike next.  FBI agent Don Eppes collects data and gives it to his brother to help him make predictions.  Students must answer the questions on the worksheet relating to possible robbery locations and their knowledge of geometry.  Students worked in groups to accomplish this task.  Way to go Mock!

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