On a cool spring morning, Floyd Bullard and Chris Gann stand side by side overlooking a class of students working groups of three on the putting green of Hillandale Golf Course. Some crowed with the success of their putts, others moaned with disappointment; all were manufacturing and collecting data for use in Bullard’s Advanced Probability Modeling course. “It’s funny they are so disappointed because if they actually made all of their putts, this activity would be useless,” Gann joked.

After taking shots from various distances and noting whether or not the ball went in, students took their data back to the classroom. There, they would generate functions predicting their individual likelihood of making a putt at any given distance. The hands-on nature of this field trip and the corresponding assignment represent one of the core missions of NCSSM’s math department — a creative approach to mathematics.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s a new way to actually collect data,” one student said. “I don’t think we are the best golf players out here,” her groupmate chimed in.

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Originally published May 14, 2018.