EdSurge–How Data Science Adds Computational Thinking—and Fun—to Gym Class

computational thinking


By Eli Sheldon
Founding Computer Science Teacher
Rainier Valley Leadership Academy High School

It’s the bottom of the ninth with two outs and it’s all tied up. You’ve got a runner on first base and you need to decide who you’re sending to the plate. You have a player with a stellar batting average, a player reliable for drawing walks and one who promises they can win it all for you—who do you play?

In the fall of 2002, the Oakland Athletics shattered a 55-year-old record with twenty consecutive games won. The A’s accomplished this on a shoestring budget and despite losing three of their best players at the start of the season. How, you ask? By applying rich data analysis to the sport, a practice known as sabermetrics. When we set out to design an engaging kickball unit for our middle school students, we asked ourselves how we could learn from the 2002 A’s.

In short, we wondered how we could combine data analysis, computational thinking and kickball to make the P.E. experience more personal, more academically rigorous and more inclusive to students of all athletic abilities.

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