The summer slide is not a fun ride at the amusement park.

The summer slide is the documented decline in student skills during the long summer break.

The school year is starting to wind down in many places in the country, and it brings worries about so-called summer slide.  

Whether school is ending soon for you or whether you’re looking a little further into the future for ways to avoid the summer slide and keep students’ minds engaged and occupied over break, here are eight ways for students to use New York Times reporting to help keep math skills sharp over the summer break.

1. Go for the Gold to Avoid the Summer Slide

The 2012 summer Olympic Games are fast approaching. Who will top the medal count in London? Check out the medal count from the 2008 Beijing Games, and explore the final standings from the games from 1896 to 2008 using the interactive “Map of Olympic Medals.” Choose your favorite countries and make a graph of their medal counts for past Olympics. How do you think they will fare this summer in London? Will the host country enjoy a “home-field advantage”? Check the medal counts of previous hosts to see.

Will world records continue to fall? Check out the evolution of world record times for events like the 100-meter dash and 200-meter freestyle. Read about how advances in science help swimmers swim faster, and make some informed projections about how athletes will perform this year.

And the Olympics aren’t just about sports. When it comes to the economics of the Olympics, are host cities winners or losers? Are the games more trouble than they’re worth? By what measure?

2. Watch Those Stocks to Avoid the Summer Slide

How do seasonal changes affect businesses’ bottom lines? What kinds of companies perform better in the summer? Worse? Do restaurants and hotel chains post better financial numbers in the summer? Research and follow companies like Darden Restaurants and Choice Hotels International to see whether and how their performance changes in the summer months. Do companies like the Gap and Staples pick up steam as students start to head back to school?

Or, identify specific companies of your choice based on your own criteria, and track their stock prices. How does the market overall perform over the summer? Track composite indices like Dow Jones Industrial Average and compare its performance with historical data from summers and winters past; does the market change at similar rates throughout the year?

3. Get Out of Town to Avoid the Summer Slide

If you can’t get out of the house this summer for a trip, research and plan a future vacation. What’s your dream trip? Check out the Travel section, set up a budget and see how far you can go.

For example, if you have always wanted to see Beijing, check out hotel andrestaurant prices using The Times’s travel guides. Be sure to check if summer is a good time to travel to China, and don’t forget to price your flights.

Challenge yourself by reducing your budget and see what kind of trip you can come up with on the cheap. Get ideas from the Frugal Traveler and look for creative ways to travel on a shoestring, like volunteering.

And be sure to check out this article on the perfect time to buy a plane ticket. (Simply booking as far ahead as possible doesn’t do the trick.) After reading the article, try out your own experiment by choosing some future flights and checking the fares every day; plot the fares on a graph, and see when the minimum price occurs. Does it match the advice in the article?

4. Watch the Race for the Pennant to Avoid the Summer Slide

The boys of summer are back! Follow the performance of your favorite baseball teams and players using the Baseball section and the Major League Baseball statistics page. Will the Yankees win 100 games this year? WillAlbert Pujols and Prince Fielder live up the expectations of their $200 million contracts? Keep up with in-season storylines at the Bats blog. Make your predictions and projections, and see how yours compare with those of this professor who uses mathematical modeling to predict the final standings.

And for an interesting application of geometry to baseball, consider the new dimensions of Citi Field, the home stadium for the New York Mets. Only 108 home runs were hit at Citi Field last year. Now that the fences have been moved in, how many home runs will be hit there this year?

Continue Reading this article on how to avoid the summer slide…


Pat Wyman

Pat Wyman is the founder of and a best selling author.

She teaches at California State University, East Bay and is known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert. She helps children and adults solve learning problems with her Amazing Grades Study Skills System and is an expert in learning styles.

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