MATH ACTIVITY ...............................................
Home Run Distance

Purpose

To measure how far you can hit a baseball and record the measurement in both customary units and metric units.

 Materials Baseball Bat Baseball (or tennis ball) Yardstick or measuring tape (customary units) Calculator Barry Bonds Photo - Courtesy USA Today
The Story

Leading off in the fourth inning for San Francisco, Barry Bonds waited for the fourth pitch. It was low and outside, but Bonds reached across the plate and made solid contact with the 1-and-2 changeup.

Witnesses say that Bond's 23rd home run of the 2003 season never rose higher than 20 feet off the ground. But that was enough. The ball cleared the fence and hit the back wall of the bullpen 381 feet from home plate. For Bonds it was career homer 637 and it gave the San Francisco Giants a 2-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Wow!

Home runs are exciting. They are one of the most thrilling spectacles in baseball. New ballparks may be built but thank goodness they are never big enough to hold in the long-ball hitters.

Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire can be counted on to crush the ball into the stands---sometimes out of the ballpark.

You are the sportscaster for WXYZ- TV in Detroit. The producer of the evening news has a great idea for a baseball spot. She wants you to prepare a special segment for tonight's show. She wants you to demonstrate just how far a 381-foot home run actually travels. And since your station has viewers in Windsor, Ontario, all measurements you make have to be shown in both US and metric units.

You have only 6 hours to come up with the story. You must act fast. You decide to start by seeing just how far someone like you can hit a baseball. Then you will show some of the distances that we commonly walk in our neighborhood that are just about as far or almost as far as your hits and major-league home runs. No matter what, the producer wants a story that your viewers can relate to.

Procedure

First, decide how many people it will take to produce this segment and what role each person will play. One of you will need to hit a baseball as far as possible and others will measure the distance in customary units. There may be other roles too.

Second, carry out the procedures that you have decided to use and record all measurements. Be sure to convert the distances into metric units for your Canadian viewers.

Third, find a distance around your neighborhood or school that is equal to the distance that you can hit the baseball. Do the same thing for the Barry Bonds homer described in the Background.

Finally, examine the home run hitters on the list provided and fill in all missing measurement conversions.

Conclusion

As a sportscaster, it is your job to write the script for your part of the show and to decide which shots need to be videotaped.

A Script-and-Shot Form has been started for you. Complete the form by making sure that you say and show everything that your producer wants. Make sure that everything fits in a two-minute spot.

This activity was developed by the Event-Based Science Institute with generous support from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. A teacher version of this and all other baseball/math activities is available free from the Institute. This Home Run Distance activity was written by Marco Fuggitti, mathematics teacher at Ridgeview Middle School, Rockville, MD..

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