Charlotte Teachers Institute Tackles ‘Sports by the Numbers’

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CHARLOTTE – Oct. 01, 2013 - Ever calculated the odds behind whether your favorite team should punt or go for it – or who’s really number one? Charlotte Teachers Institute will tackle these and other tough questions related to the intersection of sports and math in its “Exploding Canons” event on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

This next installment of CTI’s flagship speakers series will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at UNC Charlotte’s EPIC Building, next to the new Jerry Richardson Stadium, on the university’s main campus.

In “Exploding Canons: Sports by the Numbers,” faculty from Davidson College, UNC Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and professional sports statisticians will offer perspectives on how athletes, coaches, teams, economists, teachers and others use numbers and data in sports performance, development, analysis and decision-making. Sponsored by Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation with additional support from the Charlotte Bobcats, the public event is free. All attendees also will receive special ticket offers from the Charlotte Bobcats and the Charlotte Checkers.

The event begins with a reception and local sports expo in the EPIC atrium at 5:30 p.m., followed by the panel discussion from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the Siemens Energy Lecture Hall (EPIC G256). Space is limited, so registration at is recommended. CMS teachers and administrators from all grade levels and subject areas are especially encouraged to attend.

Program topics and featured speakers include:

  • “Who's Number One? How to Create Predictive Sports Rankings,” Tim Chartier, associate professor of mathematics, Davidson College
  • “Using Math to Run Lightning Fast: Usain Bolt by the Numbers,” Sharonda LeBlanc, postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering, UNC Charlotte, and West Charlotte High School track and field coach
  • “The Hot-Hand Phenomenon: Is It Real?” Michael Pillsbury, secondary math specialist, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
  • “Thinking Like a Statistician in the Huddle, the Dugout and on the Bench,” Jason W. Rosenfeld, manager of basketball analytics, Charlotte Bobcats
  • “Sports Economics: Using Sports Data to Understand the World,” Fred Smith, professor and chair of economics, Davidson College

Brian Ralph, vice president of enrollment management at Queens University of Charlotte, will serve as moderator.

“It is nearly impossible to have a conversation about sports without referencing math in some way,” said CTI Director Scott Gartlan.  “Today we find math in all aspects of sports – from the front office’s need to draft the best players to the super fans’ quest for a perfect fantasy team. The fascination with sports has driven many to rediscover the value of math to our everyday lives.”

Community partners featured during the opening reception’s Sports Expo include: the Charlotte Bobcats, Charlotte Checkers, Charlotte Knights, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and the athletic programs from UNC Charlotte, Davidson College and Queens University.

The “Exploding Canons” speakers series draws on the strengths of CTI’s partners to offer educators and the public collaborative learning opportunities that highlight university and college faculty, explore diverse topics in an interdisciplinary manner, and encourage community conversation.

About the Charlotte Teachers Institute

The Charlotte Teachers Institute is an educational partnership among Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Davidson College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte that works to improve teaching in Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools. An affiliate of the Yale National Initiative at Yale University, CTI cultivates content-knowledge, creativity, leadership skills and collaboration within and among Charlotte’s public school teachers. Programs include long-term seminars and special events for teachers, as well as community presentations. CTI’s “Exploding Canons” events engage and educate CMS teachers and the community-at-large, as CTI and a variety of partnering organizations produce forums for college and university faculty and other educators to examine topics through multi-disciplinary lenses.

CTI programs are made possible by a joint commitment of resources from all three Institute partners and through the generosity of private funding institutions such as the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Belk Foundation, Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation and the Wells Fargo. The institute is housed at UNC Charlotte within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Currently, 104 CMS teachers in grades K-12 are enrolled in eight, multidisciplinary seminars that began in the spring and continue until December. The seminars’ weekly meetings recess during the summer, while teachers immerse themselves in reading and research related to curriculum units they are developing for their students. These curriculum units generate learning beyond each teacher’s classroom, as the final units are shared with teachers’ school colleagues and are also published on the CTI and Yale National Initiative websites, making them accessible to teachers worldwide.




For more information, contact CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan, 704-687-0078,

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools media contact: Tahira Stalberte, 980-343-0954

Davidson College Public Relations media contact: Bill Giduz, 704-894-2244,

UNC Charlotte Public Relations media contact:  Buffie Stephens, 704-687-5830,




Panel to discuss math and sports during 'Exploding Canons' speakers series