Tokyo 2020 Maths Textbook Uses Sport to Stimulate Learning

Already being used by more than 100,000 students at public elementary schools in Tokyo

Students and two athletes holding Maths Textbook in a classroom

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has introduced a new and specially formulated mathematics textbook which aims to help students enjoy the study of mathematics through interaction with Japanese athletes and sporting bodies. The book also gives students the opportunity to actively participate in educational initiatives linked to the Games. On 17 April, Tokyo 2020 hosted a special class using the new textbook in a public elementary school in Tokyo, with the participation of two medallists, Olympian Kaori Matsumoto and Paralympian Takuro Yamada.

Two athletes, Kaori Matsumoto and Takuro Yamada giving a lecture to the students
Two athletes, Kaori Matsumoto and Takuro Yamada standing on a podium, ready to distribute the textbook

Introduced at the beginning of this month, the textbook is being used by over 100,000 students at all 1,276 public elementary schools in Tokyo and by more than 36,000 students at 588 schools in four other prefectures. The new material is in two parts; one containing maths challenges related to 33 Olympic sports and the other with content related to 22 Paralympic sports.

Some of the questions in the textbook ask pupils to measure aspects of Olympic and Paralympic performances; for example, calculating the average distance twelve balls were thrown during an actual Boccia pairs competition. Athletes appear with their photos in the textbook, which also aims to spur pupils' interest in sport while they are studying mathematics.

Sample questions in the textbook

Sample questions:
(left question) - A gymnast's height is 161cm. When he stretches his arms above his head, the distance from his fingertips to his feet is about 2m. See the above left image showing the athlete performing a giant swing on the bar, and determine the area of the circle.

(right question) - The diameter of the gymnastic rings using by Kenzo Shirai, gymnastics gold medallist at Rio 2016 Games, is 18cm. Calculate the internal area of the rings.

At the event, Kaori Matsumoto, judo gold medallist at the Olympic Games London 2012 and bronze medallist at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, commented, "When I was a child, I disliked homework, especially mathematics, because it was not fun. But thanks to this interesting learning material which features me and many other Olympians and Paralympians, I saw how much more the students enjoyed answering the questions, and how easily. I felt they were having more fun learning and that this will widen their possibilities. I hope my daughter will like studying mathematics using this kind of textbook."

Added Takuro Yamada, swimming bronze medallist at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, "I feel that many Paralympic sports would still not be so well-known were it not for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games being hosted here next year. When I heard about the Tokyo 2020 mathematics textbook, I wanted to support it because it's a great way to promote Paralympic sport to many children. Children will play an important role livening up events at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. I believe that this is great initiative, allowing these children to enjoy learning."

The textbook, created with the help of Japanese Olympians and Paralympians, is one of the initiatives stemming from Tokyo 2020 Education Programme "Yoi Don!" ("Get Set"), which brings the Olympic and Paralympic Games into schools across Japan and allows students to actively participate in educational initiatives linked to the Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Games have a clearly-stated vision: "Sport has the power to change the world and our future." Reflecting this, we aim to harness the power of the Tokyo 2020 Games to bring positive change to Tokyo, to Japan and to the world. The overriding objective of our Action & Legacy Plan is to engage as many people as possible in the Games--the Action element--and to bequeath the benefits of hosting the Tokyo 2020 Games to future generations--the Legacy element. We hope this maths textbook will come to be seen as one of the legacy elements for young generations to come.

Tokyo 2020 is providing the textbook to any local authorities across Japan who request it.

A student holding up the textbook
Students trying the textbook
A student trying a math question
Page featuring Para Triathlon