PROJECTS > FRACTION BALL
Researchers at UC Irvine and El Sol Sciences & Arts Academy partnered in the creation of Fraction Ball in Santa Ana, CA. For Fraction Ball, the lines on a basketball court are painted to emphasize fraction and decimal learning by allowing children to take shots that are worth a fraction of a point with the goal of earning an exact number of points on a number line next to the court.
The Learning Goal
Playful, physically active, embodied math learning. Communication and Collaboration (children play structured games on teams to pursue different goals), Content (fractions, decimals, arithmetic, number lines), Critical Thinking (strategizing what shots you need to reach your goal the most efficient way), Creativity (making up new games/goals using the court, e.g., adding in a ball that multiplies all shots by 2), Confidence (engaging with fractions and decimals in a playful approaches improves confidence when they encounter them in the classroom).
The traditional 3-point arc is converted into a 1-point arc and smaller arcs closer to the basket represent 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 point shots on one end of the court, and 1/3 and 2/3 point shots on the opposite end. The numbers are presented as fractions on one side of the court and as decimals on the other side, requiring students to convert between them. Along the side of the court, a number line with both fraction and decimal representations helps students keep track of their score.
Fraction Ball is a collaboration between Andres Bustamante (Assistant Professor UC Irvine School of Education), Kreshnik Begolli (Adjunct Professor California State University, Long Beach), Drew Bailey (Associate Professor UC Irvine School of Education), Lindsey Richland (Associate Professor UC Irvine School of Education), and Daniela Alvarez-Vargas (Graduate Student UC Irvine School of Education).
The project was supported by UC Irvine School of Education (deans research award funded first study) and El Sol Academy (Santa Ana Charter School where the first court was painted and tested, they paid for the paint job).
First evaluation study utilized an experimental design to examine the learning value of 160-minutes over 4 sessions of playing Fraction Ball as a supplement to in-class fraction and decimal learning during Physical Education class. With a sample of 69 5th and 6th grade students, results demonstrated that children who played Fraction Ball made significantly greater gains pre- to posttest on converting decimals to fractions, fractions to decimals, and a subset of items categorized as “near transfer” (e.g., basic fraction and decimal arithmetic).