Opening Day was a few weeks ago, and now the baseball season is really in swing! (pun absolutely intended). Of all the sports, baseball is perfectly suited for leveraging lessons.
Baseball is all about history and tradition. Known as America’s Pastime, the sport has been around for over 150 years. That history lives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, but not everyone can make that field trip. Luckily, they have a remarkable website with lesson plans organized into units.
Here are some lesson ideas for four different subject areas.
This unit explores the little-known history of women in baseball, including players, executives, and reporters. Much of that history was brought to light by the hit movie A League of Their Own (update: Amazon followed this up 30 years later with a TV series of the same name), a fictional account of the very real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
With the extensive analysis available to teams and fans, statistics run baseball more than ever. Students can track the stats of their favorite players, of course, perhaps organizing themselves into a fantasy baseball game. This lesson goes deeper, teaching students how baseball statistics are calculated and applied using basic mathematical principles.
There are no hits, throws, or catches without physics. Another unit from the Hall of Fame explores friction, center of mass, coefficient of restitution, Magnus effect, and other important physics ideas that impact the game. Older students can wade into concepts like aerodynamics and Newton’s Three Laws of Motion. Include visual aids like a video from a recent game. Better yet, set up a cross-curricular event with your PE department, organizing a game where they can see the concepts themselves.
Many people have distinct memory having to do with baseball. In this lesson from PBS and Ken Burns, students conduct oral history interviews with friends or family about their most vivid baseball memory. Then, they journalistically report their findings on a blog, video, or social media. Giving kids the ability to see how the game has changed over generations will be an interesting experience! Plus, you’ll be able to provide important lessons about journalistic standards and content creation.