Inspired by the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, BBC Two Learning Zone has produced a new series of video maths challenges for Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Developed with input from us (the University of Cambridge's Millennium Mathematics Project), 3, 2, 1, Go! sees real schoolchildren solve problems given to them by Olympic champions and sporting heroes.

Key Stage 3 - Football Prediction Challenge

3, 2, 1, Go! is a sports-maths challenge show which reveals how important maths is to sport. Two football-mad Key Stage 3 schoolchildren are taken to Arsenal’s training ground. They meet Arsenal player Per Mertesacker, and are set a maths challenge related to football. The pair of children have to watch the striker score penalties before predicting which way he will aim his final shot.

Possible uses in the classroom

Set the scene and the show the video clip up to where the challenge is given.
In pairs, pupils discuss what the boys will have to do, and share this with the rest of the class.
What information and how much do they need to collect?
What would they predict the result would be?

Watch the rest of the programme.
What did they think about the boys’ strategy?
Did the result match their predictions?
Is this a realistic experiment?
What factors does a kicker take into account when placing his penalty?

If you can set up the same activity then repeat it and the calculations.
You could vary the number of kicks allowed in each case, so that the percentage calculations become more difficult.
If this is not possible (or for those who aren’t so keen on football), set up a similar activity in which there are four ways to score – for example four buckets spaced out in a line. The equivalent of the goal keeper can try to stop the ball landing in the bucket.

Pupils discuss different ways of presenting their results.


There are lots of statistics about penalty shootouts, see for example:
For some of these it is useful to be able to use percentages for comparisons.
Students choose a data set and explore it, presenting their findings to the rest of the class.

Students do the same activity but kick or throw ten times only. How can they convert these to percentages?

Related resources

  • As students discuss different ways of presenting their results, you could also look at our KS3 activities Charting Success and Charting More Success which invite students to consider, analyse and discuss different ways of presenting sports data through diagrams, charts and graphs.

The following resources from our NRICH website explore some of the mathematical ideas encountered in this activity:

  • Matching Fractions, Decimals, Percentages This game can be played interactively against the computer or as a card game to speed up recognition of equivalent fractions, decimals and percentages. It is aimed at students at KS2 and KS3.
  • Fraction and Percentage Card Game A version of the interactive card game above at a more advanced level of difficulty, aimed at KS3 and KS4 students.
  • Peaches Today, Peaches Tomorrow This problem gives practice in calculating fractions of integers while requiring students to come up with problem-solving strategies. It is aimed at KS3 and 4 students.
  • Mixing Lemonade This KS3 problem gives a clear real-world context in which to investigate fractions, ratio and proportion.

KS3 curriculum:

[Ma2 1f] represent problems and solutions in algebraic or graphical forms…

[Ma2 1j] show step-by-step deductions in solving a problem; explain and justify how they arrived at a conclusion.

[Ma2 2e] understand that ‘percentage’ means ‘number of parts per 100’…

[Ma2 2g] recognize where fractions or percentages are needed to compare proportions; identify problems that call for proportional reasoning, and choose the correct numbers to take as 100%, or as a whole.

[Ma4 1a] carry out each of the four aspects of the handling data cycle to solve problems… [see aspects therein]

[Ma4 2a] see that random processes are unpredictable.

[Ma4 3a] …collect data using various methods including observation, controlled experiment, data logging, questionnaires and surveys.

Commissioned by BBC Two Learning Zone with advice from Lynne McClure (Director of NRICH, Millennium Mathematics Project, University of Cambridge), the clips were produced in collaboration with BBC Sport.