Basketball Free Throws

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I love this one for the raw emotion it brings out when I use it with teachers and in classrooms. It appeared on my blog originally in this form.

This problem solving activity involves probability of making free throws.

Download all four videos: Zip File

Play Video 1 and Set the stage for your students. Memphis is down 2 points after Louisiana misses the free throw. Darius Washington has been fouled on a three-point attempt. He will shoot 3 shots worth 1 point each and there is no time left on the clock. Memphis needs to win to get into March Madness.

Have the students discuss possible outcomes. Ask them to determine the probability of a Memphis win. The probability of Darius making a free throw could be 72% (his season average) or 2/3 (his performance so far in the game). Kids could make arguments for it being lower or higher because of the magnitude of the situation.

Play Video 2 that shows him making the first free throw. Ask your students to talk about what has changed. Get them to re-calculate the probability of a Memphis win.

Play Video 3 that shows him missing the second free  throw. Ask your students to talk about what has changed. Get them to re-calculate the probability of a Memphis win (they will need overtime to win now).

Play Video 4. Your kids will be crushed. Tell them about when you were a kid you used to watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports and know all about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

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