The National Center for Quality Afterschool

Helping local practitioners and state education agencies develop high-quality and balanced programs

About the Center

Afterschool Lesson Plan Database

Lesson Plan

Algebra: Olympic Races
Subject: Math
Grade span: 6 to 8
Duration: 45 minutes (can be ongoing)
This lesson was excerpted from the Afterschool Training Toolkit under the promising practice: Finding Math


This sample lesson is one example of how you can implement the Finding Math practice. In this activity, students examine Olympic athlete profiles and use algebra skills to calculate average speed and calories burned per minute in given events.

Learning Goals:



Print out copies of the Athlete Profiles (PDF).

What to Do:

Teaching Tips:

This lesson asks students to take data about an athlete and use algebra skills to figure out more information (calories burned per minute and speed). Students should be able to work together to come up with the formulas that will lead to the answers. Rather than giving them an answer, use guiding questions and the Teaching Tips below to help students use what they know to find an effective formula. Approaches and formulas will vary from group to group. Allow students enough freedom to discover their own methods for approaching the problem, and use each group's discussion to evaluate students' understanding of the algebra skills involved. Remember that the approach students take and how they use variables are more important than the answers they come up with.

To find the calories burned per minute:
  • One way to approach the problem is to present a simpler problem. If someone burns 60 calories in 60 minutes, how many calories are burned per minute? What about 120 calories in 60 minutes? What does this tell you about the formula needed to find the calories burned per minute?
  • Now, let's look at the male cross-country skier who burns 2,050 calories in a 90-minute event. To find the calories burned per minute, divide 2,050 by 90.
  • You may want to use a calculator to find the answer (2,050 calories/90minutes = 21.6 calories per minute).
To find the speed:
  • Speed equals distance divided by time. However, rather than giving students this formula, consider the tips below to help them figure it out.
  • One way to approach the problem is to ask students to estimate if the skier's speed is going to be faster or slower than 30 kilometers per hour. (We know that the skier went 30 kilometers in 90 minutes, so he must be traveling slower than 30km per hour.)
  • Some students may see a way to break down the problem into parts. For example, students may figure out that 90 minutes represents three half-hours, and that the skier went a total of 30 kilometers. Then you can ask them how many kilometers the skier went per half hour (10km) and per hour (20km).
  • Another way that students can find the speed is to divide the distance (30km) by the time (90 minutes), for a total of .333 kilometers per minute. They can then multiply the speed per minute (.333) by 60 to find the speed per hour (20km).
  • Students may want to use a calculator to solve this problem (30/90 = .333 or a third of a kilometer per minute). They then multiply the speed per minute (.333) by 60. Note that if students do use a calculator, they will come up with an answer of 19.98, and should round up.
  • To get a number that isn't rounded off, students can convert time in minutes (90) to time in hours (1.5) before doing this last calculation (30/1.5 = 20).

Evaluate (Outcomes to look for):

Click this link to see additional learning goals, grade-level benchmarks, and standards covered in this lesson.

Online Training for Afterschool Staff
The Afterschool Training Toolkit is available online free of charge.

The following resources can be used with the online Afterschool Training Toolkit to give you the resources you need to build fun, innovative, and academically enriching afterschool activities.