Buck Institute for Education

On Your Mark

Author: Mathalicious

What will my students be doing?

In On Your Mark, students use proportions to determine what would happen if Olympic races were organized differently and explore this even further in two project tasks, Field Day and The Quick and the Tall.

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • Launch Activity & Lesson Guide
  • Project Tasks
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Guides
  • Interactive Media

Current Version: January 10, 2018

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is fast...very fast. He’s also tall...very tall. At 1.96 meters (6’5”), Bolt towers over his competition. So does this give him an unfair advantage, and what would happen if instead of everyone running the same distance, Olympic sprinters ran distances based on their heights?

In the launch activity of On Your Mark, students use proportions to determine what would happen if Olympic races were organized differently. Would Bolt still win?

Students explore this even further in the project tasks. In one task (which you may elect to do before the launch activity) students hit the track and run. They then return to class, measure their heights, and discuss whether there’s a relationship between height and running time. In another, students research a different Olympic racing event and see what would have happened had the race been organized proportionally. They then determine which type of event (fixed distance or proportional distance) is the fairest way to crown a champion, and explain why.

Project Notes

  • Subjects: Math
  • Grade Level: 7th
  • Common Core Aligned
  • Time Required: <10 Hours
  • CC BY-NC

Sponsored By


The World Is an Interesting Place. Math Class Should Be, Too.

At Mathalicious, we think the world is an interesting place full of interesting questions. Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes? Do taller Olympic sprinters have an unfair advantage? How have video game consoles changed over time…and are we building the Matrix?

We also think math class is the perfect place for students and teachers to explore questions like these, and that it can be the most interesting part of the day.

Project Documents

Project Author

Mathalicious creates lessons around real-world topics that help middle and high-school teachers address the Common Core while challenging their students to think more critically about the world. Lessons explore such questions as, Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes, and should Nike charge by weight? (unit rates), and How does memory deteriorate over time, and how much can you trust it? (exponential decay). For more information, or to view its growing library of lessons, please visit www.mathalicious.com.