Wikipedia defines mathematics as "the study of quantity, structure, space and change." With a definition like that, it's easy to see why math is often called "the language of science." Math is essential for analyzing and communicating scientific results, and for stating scientific theories in a way that is clear, succinct, and testable.

Almost all of the games we play are based on math in some way or another. Card games, board games, and computer games are designed using statistics, probabilities, and algorithms. Begin by reading about games and game theory. Then you can choose your favorite game and investigate the mathematical principles behind how it works. Can combinatorial game theory help you to win two-player games of perfect knowledge such as go, chess, or checkers? (Weisstein, 2006; Watkins, 2004) In a multi-player…
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Here's a project that combines sports and math. You'll learn how to use correlation analysis to choose the best team batting statistic for predicting run-scoring ability (Albert, 2003). You'll also learn how to use a spreadsheet to measure correlations between two variables. The project description Which Team Batting Statistic Predicts Run Production Best? provides the details.
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You may know Lewis Carroll as the author of Alice in Wonderland, but did you know that in real life he was a mathematician who studied symbolic logic and logical reasoning? How can math help you solve Lewis Carroll's Logic Game? (Bogomolny, 2006) How are algorithms for solving the game Sudoku similar to solving a logic problem? (Hayes, 2006) For the super-advanced mathematical genius, try to evaluate currently available, logic-based computational tools, or design a better one!…
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Take shots at a set distance from the basket, but systematically vary the angle to the backboard. For a basic project: How do you think your success rate will vary with angle? Draw a conclusion from your experimental results. A bar graph showing success rate at different angles can help to illustrate your conclusion. For a more advanced project: Use your knowledge of geometry and basketball to come up with a mathematical expression to predict your success rate as a function of angle…
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If you like to play Tetris, then you might like this project. You will learn something interesting about the mathematics of complex shapes as you try to prove Pick's Theorem.
The strange shape below is an example of a lattice polygon, which is a polygon whose vertices lie on points in the plane that have integer coordinates.
As you can see, it is a complex shape, but there is an easy way to calculate its area, by simply counting lattice points!
If you count the number of lattice points on…
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Can you remember what the weather was like last week? Last year? Here's a project that looks at what the weather was like for over a hundred years. You'll use historical climate data to look at moisture conditions in regions across the continental U.S. You'll use a spreadsheet program to calculate the frequency of different moisture conditions for each region and make graphs for comparison. Which part of the country has the most frequent droughts? The most frequent periods of prolonged…
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Block off one-third of a soccer net with a cone, 5-gallon bucket or some other suitable object. Shoot into the smaller side from a set distance, but systematically varying the angle to the goal line. Take enough shots at each angle to get a reliable sample. How does success vary with angle? For a basic project: How do you think your success rate will vary with angle? Draw a conclusion from your experimental results. A bar graph showing success rate at different angles can help to…
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Here's a project that will teach you about math as you follow some of your favorite players or teams. You'll be comparing day-to-day performance with long-term averages, and trying to determine if the "streaks" and "slumps" over shorter time periods are due to random chance or something else. When you've finished, you'll have a better understanding of some important concepts in statistical analysis and baseball.
If a player goes 0-for-20, does that mean anything? Using probability theory,…
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Many industries rely on scale models to develop new products and designs. Architects, industrial designers, artists, clothing designers, and car manufacturers all use scale models. Each model is built to a scale that relates the actual object to the model through a ratio. Can you determine a formula for constructing a scale model? You can use your formula to make a model of your house, school, neighborhood, or town (CUBE, 2002). You can make scale models of the Wright Brothers aircraft…
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This a straightforward, but interesting, project in geometry. It is a good first proof to try on your own. You should be able to figure it out by yourself, and you'll gain insight into a basic property of circles.
Figure 1 below shows a semicircle (AE, in red) with a series of smaller semicircles (AB, BC, CD, DE, in blue) constructed inside it. As you can see, the sum of the diameters of the four smaller semicircles is equal to the diameter of the large semicircle. The area of the larger…
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