Standard math curriculum at the high school level requires teaching skills in algebra, geometry and statistics and probability. Additional topics include number and quantity, functions and modeling. While traditional teaching includes rote memorization and teacher modeling with student practice, hands-on projects engage students in the learning process and deepen their understanding.
Developing a Business Plan
Business scenarios from restaurants to specialty shops provide opportunities for exploration and solving of equations. For example, devise a scenario in which students calculate the amount of ingredients that can be purchased on a given budget for a restaurant's dinner service. In a specialty shop scenario, students can figure out how much product to stock to make a profit. Students can also use algebraic equations to project profits and overall sales. The final product is a business plan with a given budget and desired profit.
Designing a Home
Present students with the scenario of designing a school of their choosing. For example, students might choose to design a school with an arts focus or a sports focus. Students decide on the layout of the campus and design elements for the exteriors of the buildings and develop a specific architectural design and layout for their school based on geometric principles and functional needs. Students can also use principles of ratio and proportion to ensure that the design is to scale.
Develop a scenario in which students calculate how much money they need to save to afford a large purchase. For example, you might suggest they figure out how much they need to purchase a car or pay for a year's tuition for college. Using formulas for interest and rate of growth, students create presentations showing various methods for attaining their goal amount. Students can develop various plans, including maintaining a single deposit amount, making monthly recurring deposits, or adding a larger deposit halfway through their savings plan.
Projecting Survey Results
To use principles of statistics and probability, have students design a survey to distribute among their classmates. Determine the number of students to be surveyed and how many questions to include in the survey. Students distribute the surveys and collect results to find the median, mean and mode of responses. Students can also find the standard deviation of the responses or the probability of a given response if the survey were distributed to a larger portion of the student population.
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: Mathematics Standards
- Common Core State Standards Initiative: High School: Algebra -- Introduction
- NYC Department of Education: Common Core-Aligned Task With Instructional Supports: High School Algebra
- TeachThought.com: What Project-Based Learning Looks Like in Math
- Indiana University; The College Fund Savings Problem; Barbara Carstensen et al.
- McKinley High School: Miss Kajfasz's Site: Algebra 2 Probability and Statistics Project
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