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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Pacers Foundation aims to boost math proficiency through play

Andrew Pillow
Andrew Pillow
Andrew Pillow is an educator and education reporter. He attended school in Louisville, K-12, and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. In addition to his work as an educator, he also navigates the education system as a parent.

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Local students recently got a chance to play on the floor of Gainbridge Fieldhouse but they weren’t exactly playing basketball. They were participating in NBA Math Hoops.

NBA Math Hoops is a game that aims to enhance fundamental math and interpersonal skills among elementary and middle school students while simultaneously addressing gaps in math proficiency.

On March 16, the Pacers Foundation hosted around 80 students from William McKinley School 39 and George Buck School 94 for a game of NBA Math Hoops. Students received a tour of several Pacers facilities as well as a visit from the Pacers mascot, Boomer.

According to Rico Francis, The Pacers Foundation Social Impact Director, NBA Math Hoops is in cities across the country but was made possible in Indianapolis by an $800,000 grant from the Eli Lily Foundation. Normally NBA Math Hoops is played on a board or digitally.

But on March 16, students got to play a version of the game with real players on an actual NBA court. This was to try and “give them the full experience,” said Francis.

Corey Wilson, the Executive Director of The Pacers Foundation, said the ultimate goal for the program is to get Indianapolis kids invested in math.

“I have never seen a moment where students are so excited about math,” said Wilson. “800 kids in 18 different schools are participating in Math hoops.”

NBA Math Hoops is usually led or sponsored by a teacher. One such teacher is Jacob Gregory of William McKinley School 39. He and his students were in attendance at the event and he said that he can see the impact the program has on his students.

“My kids get really excited about it,” said Gregory. “They have discussions as they play. They check each other’s math.”

Math scores in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) have rebounded to their pre-pandemic levels but are still significantly below the district’s stated goals. ILEARN scores show that only 19.5% of IPS students were proficient in math in 2022.
Contact Indy Kids Winning reporter Andrew Pillow at andrewp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewPillow. 

Andrew’s work is supported through a partnership between Indy Kids Winning and the Indianapolis Recorder. Visit indykidswinning.com to learn more.

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