Probability and the Brazil World Cup 2014

The games of the FIFA World Cup offer a great chance to work on probability using data read from charts. In the first activity the pupils will try to predict the results of group matches in three groups using FIFA rankings, the recent form of the teams and the goals they’ve scored against other teams and those that have been scored against them.

The second activity can be completed using scales from maps or by using www.travelmath.com. In it, the pupils will calculate the distances football fans will have to travel to see each game.

Suitable For: Year 3 to Year 6

Learning Focus:

• Consider probability based on existing information
•  To be able to read data accurately from a chart
• To be able to interpret data and draw conclusions from it

Activity One

Resource Sheet – Brazil Football Score Sheet

Ask the pupils which team they think will win this year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The dreamers will say England, the realists will likely say Spain or Brazil.

Tell them that they are going to use the recent form of the teams in three groups to predict what the scores and results of the group matches will be. You could run the activity as a little competition with a small prize for the closest results.

The pupils should consider probability; what is the probability of them winning based on their last five games? They then need to see whether their FIFA ranking would make them more or less likely to beat their opponents. Finally, using the number of goals they’ve scored recently, the pupils can predict the scores.

Resource Sheet – Brazil Football Score Sheet and if your pupils enjoy the task and you want to extend it, you can collect much of the data for the other groups from the official FIFA World Cup site and from Wikipedia.

If you’ve got plenty of time to work on the task you could take it further and predict the last 16 matches, quarter finals, semis and finals!

Activity Two

For this activity you’ll need a map of Brazil with the scale marked on it or access to the website www.travelmath.com. The matches of the World Cup are spread around the very big country of Brazil and fans will have to travel long distances to see all of their team’s games but whose fans will travel the furthest?

European flights invariably land in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo so you can calculate the distances from there. Details of where each match is being played are on the FIFA World Cup website http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.html. England’s group games are in Manaus, Sao Paulo and then Belo Horizonte.

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