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Sport Collection

This is our collection of favourite mathematics and sport materials.

Going for Gold

Looking at the 2012 Olympic Medal table, can you see how the data is organised? Could the results be presented differently to give another nation the top place?

Now and Then

Look at the changes in results on some of the athletics track events at the Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948. Compare the results for 2012.

Olympic Starters

Age 7 to 11
Challenge Level

Olympic Starters

This is the start of the $100$ metres in $1896$. In that year Thomas Burke from the USA won the race in $12$ seconds.

I wonder how far you could run in $12$ seconds.

You and your friends could use a stop watch and then measure how far you ran.


This is the finish of the $200$ metres in $1924$. Jackson Scholz from USA won that race in just over $21$ seconds.

I wonder if you could run the $100$ metres in that time?

Or you could see how far you could run in $22$ seconds.

This is the high jump in $1906$. It shows Ray Ewry from the United States.

He jumped $1$ metre $56$ centimetres.


How high can you jump?


See how high $1$ metre $56$ centimetres is.


Can you find someone who can jump that high?

This is the triple jump, which is a hop, step and a jump.

In $1906$ it was Peter O'Connor from Ireland who won a silver medal.

He jumped about $15$ metres

What's your best hop, step and a jump?


Photograph acknowledgements


Why do this activity?

This activity looks at some historic Olympic results and asks children to think about whether they could do something similar. It introduces ideas about measuring time and distances in standard units.

Possible approach

Talk to the class about the Olympic Games and their history both in modern and ancient times. Talk about the ideas of winning and competition. Get them to try the tasks themselves and look at ways of collecting the information about what they do.

Key questions

How far do you think that is? What might you use to measure it?
How long is that time? What might you use to measure it?
Can you jump that far/run that fast?

Possible extension

Children could move on to timing each other as they do different tasks and create their own sports competitions deciding on rules for winning.

Possible support

Some children will need a lot of help to measure lengths and times accurately. Using them in a real context can help them to understand the meanings of the numbers on the tapes and on the clock.

The task Can You Do it Too? offers a similar opportunity, but in the context of measuring distance using non-standard units.

Photograph acknowledgements