STEM

Virtual Field Trip Highlights Relevance of Math in NBA

Students pictured above work on NBA Apply problems within Discovery Education's Math Techbook. Image courtesy of Discovery Ed.

Basketball and math go hand-in-hand according to the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Discovery Education. The partners will be highlighting careers in the NBA that utilize math front and center in a virtual field trip taking place Thursday.

The NBA and Discovery Education, a K–12 education publisher, joined teams last November to inspire students to engage in math by using a topic that interests many students: professional basketball. The latter introduced “NBA Apply problems” to its Math Techbook, which is used by more than 3 million students across the United States and several Canadian provinces. The digital textbook’s interactive problems feature tools and game-like activities to enhance the learning experience.

Coming up Thursday, May 4, the partners are launching a 30-minute virtual field trip, “Careers that Count,” designed to show middle and high school students how math is used in basketball careers on the court and beyond.

Senior Vice President of Discovery Education Lori McFarling told THE Journal that the virtual field trip is the next phase in a multi-year partnership with the NBA.

“The NBA and the WNBA have a long history of making meaningful contributions to the community and engaging at the local level. One of the things that had been a goal of theirs was to find a way to take that commitment even further and to truly be a part of helping young students achieve within the classroom,” McFarling said. “They came to Discovery Education given our work in core curriculum and helping school districts transform the culture of teaching and learning in the classroom. We put together a partnership that allows us to take gameday images, video, statistics, information and all kinds of dynamic tools and create custom math engagement problems for students, which are embedded into the Math Techbook.”

One of Discovery Education’s major goals is to bring real world experiences into the classroom, McFarling said. “Being able to make math come alive that way and to help young people understand the importance of what they’re studying and learning in the classroom and applications to the real world is something that’s really important to us.”

Discovery Education has launched several other virtual field trips in the past — from a tour of global manufacturer 3M’s company headquarters to polar bear migrations in the Arctic.

VR by Discovery Education: A full list of archived virtual field trips is available on Discovery's field trips homepage.

One of the guests for “Careers that Count” is Kiki VanDeWeghe, a retired professional basketball player who was formerly the manager of the Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets (serving as head coach for the latter from 2009 to 2010). VanDeWeghe is now vice president of basketball operations for the NBA.

VanDeWeghe said in a statement, “We want students to know that anyone with a passion for math and sports can pursue a career in professional athletics…. Basketball and numbers go hand-in-hand, and we’re excited for students to see how we utilize math on an everyday basis to improve our game.”

Others lined up for the field trip’s “roster” include:

  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, forward for the Brooklyn Nets;
  • Doris Daif, senior vice president of customer data strategy at the NBA;
  • Hao Meng, director of basketball strategy at the NBA; and
  • Zain Jafri, a database analyst for the New York Knicks.

“Careers that Count” will premiere on-demand Thursday, May 4 and registration is now open. To participate in the event, Tweet questions to @DicoveryEd and @jrnba using the hashtag #CareersThatCount.

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