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Monday, January 25, 2016

Use the Super Bowl to create engaging learning opportunities in the classroom!

It's official-- the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will play in this year's big Super Bowl 50
at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Are your students football fans? Then how about using this major event as a learning opportunity in the classroom!

Ad Analysis-- a look at the literary elements of Super Bowl commercials
184 million Americans tuned in to watch the Super Bowl last year, and more than 75% say that part of the entertainment of the event is seeing the Super Bowl commercials. Many Super Bowl commercials are available on YouTube and are a great resource for teaching storytelling, literary elements, themes, and persuasive writing.
(TIP-- don't forget to screen those commercials before showing them to your class... some might be too racy or inappropriate for students in K-8)

Create your own Super Bowl Commercial
With Super Bowl commercials one of the highlights of this yearly event, why not have students create their own! Student commercials can focus on advertising a historical event or place being studied in social studies, or an important object or artifact in literature being read in English class, or can help students practice their persuasive writing techniques. Students can also research the cost to make the average Super Bowl commercial and calculate (or estimate) how much money was spent total on Super Bowl advertising.

The Math Behind Levi's Stadium
There are a lot of numbers associated with Levi's Stadium-- number of seats, tons of steel, acres on which the stadium sits... Why not use those numbers to engage students in some math talks? The Levi's Stadium website has a whole page dedicated to Levi's by the Numbers! Students can create an infographic with all of the stadium stats that they find. My friend Ryan O'Donnell's infographic template ("By the Numbers" template) is a great way to get started!

Football Stats
Can we use math to predict which team will win the Super Bowl? Use data (found online) about the teams and players participating in the Super Bowl to calculate averages, percentages, and the probability of a win. Students can graph player data and poll each other to see who they think will win and why.

Football Helmet Engineering
Student building their helmet prototypes
Have students study the causes and effects of concussions using articles and videos found on sites like Newsela and PBS LearningMedia. Then have students use the engineering design process to design better football (or other sports) helmets and create prototypes of those helmets using recycled
materials and stuff found around the classroom/house. Students can test their prototypes on a fake head (cantaloupe melon works well and we tested by having the teacher or principal use a hammer on the helmet).

Design a Football Stadium
If students could design their own football stadium (or soccer stadium or concert hall... you could tweek this depending on student interest), how would they design it? Have students research more about current sports stadium designs, then use this design challenge to teach students a number of math skills (how much acreage would you need for the stadium and parking, how big does the stadium need to be to house a large group of people...). Students can draw their designs on graph paper or get techy and use programs like Google Draw or Google SketchUp to create blueprints or models of their stadiums (to scale or not). Try and find a local architect that can serve as an expert for students to interview to help with their project and learn more about building design!

You could also provide students with tasks that ask them to determine the amount of parking, or bathrooms, or entrances based on local building codes (current building codes are available to the public online--here's California's codes). An architect friend of mine provided me with two tasks that her company uses in their high school mentoring program. In one, students are asked to determine how much parking is needed for a stadium that seats X number of people based on local city codes. **If Santa Clara City Code requires 1 parking spot for every 4 seats in a stadium, how much parking, then, would Levi's Stadium require if the stadium seats 68,500 in general admission, 8,500 in club seating, and about 1,650 in the luxury suites?

Mapping Travel to the Super Bowl
Have students use a tool like MyMaps to map the distances that the teams will be travelling to the Super Bowl this year. Students can calculate the total distance traveled for each team to get to Santa Clara and then return home, or compare the distances that each team will travel to California. Students could also

Super Bowl's impact on Silicon Valley
With 1 million people expected to be in the Bay Area next week, residents of Silicon Valley are worried about the impact that this influx of people will have on our day-to-day lives (see the two articles from KQED & Wired Magazine linked below). Read the articles below (and the plethora of others on the Internet) with students and then have them ask questions about how the Super Bowl will affect the daily lives of Silicon Valley residents. Can you or the students create a learning task around the students' questions? Here are some example questions that might help guide learning opportunities:

-How will commuters need to adjust their travel routes and times to and from work? Can students use Google Maps or MyMaps to create create alternate travel routes for morning commuters?
-Most visitors will likely stay in popular San Francisco, but then how will they get to Santa Clara on game day and what time will they need to leave in order to arrive well before the coin drop?
-Google is donating shuttle service, but how many people will they be able to accomodate and what will the cost be?
-And how about parking??

Comparing Silicon Valley in 1985 to Silicon Valley in 2016
I found a really great article in the San Jose Mercury News that took at a look back at Super Bowl 1985 in Palo Alto, California and how different it was from the Super Bowl that will take place this year just down the road in Santa Clara. Students could use this article, and do their own research, to compare the Silicon Valley of 1985 to the Silicon Valley of today.


  1. Wonderful post! Great ideas to share. Definitely amazing to consider the creative projects the students make from these ideas.

  2. Love the variety of lessons, Amanda. Looks like some great learning and fun will be happening during Super Bowl week. Thanks for sharing!!!