Sunday, December 2, 2012

Theme Park Tycoon -- Integrated Math Project


Any teacher knows ANY period can be a roller coaster ride. In this 21st Century Math Project, Variables & Expressions go to the Amusement Park in this engaging four assignment unit designed for Algebra or Pre-Algebra. Bring variables to life using a theme park motif. From park operations to admissions, variables and expressions are the backbone of the analysis of the Amusement Park’s data.

All that and this happen to be one of my hottest selling projects!

Name: Theme Park Tycoon
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Basic Algebra skills)
Math Concepts: Translating Verbal and Algebraic Expressions, Order of Operations, Mathematical Modeling
Interdisciplinary Connections: Business, Entertainment
Teaching Duration: 2-3 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $5 for a 12 Page PDF (3 assignments, 1 project with answer key) 

The Product: After a careful analysis of the park’s data, students make a proposal regarding the need for another roller coaster at the park.
Money. Speed. Cotton Candy. I'm in.
Josie is the new manager of a theme park -- Fun Time Awesome Place. Unfortunately, Fun Time Awesome Place is considered the thirteenth best amusement park in the Midwest and she has to turn it around! One of her duties is to collect and analyze data to determine how the park is doing financially and figure out which rides are the most efficient. It’s the student’s job to help determine some mathematical expressions that will help make her job much smoother.

Although most adults are deathly afraid of the Quadruple Brain-Crippler Vortex, Middle School kids will hop right on and claim it’s the most amazing thing ever. Capture that invincible, youthful energy and package it into your Pre-Algebra or Algebra 1 class.

Understanding and writing verbal expression is still one of the most difficult skills in math. Really, whenever students are asked to learn to interchange between multiple representations, it’s a challenge. I created three assignments that increase in difficulty and practice different aspects of the skills. Depending on the level of your students, these assignments may be better off done in groups and follow it up with some teacher leadership.

Roller coasters? I need to see the
Common Core.
After having done this a few times, I have worked out a number of the kinks that my students faced in the assignment. For the most part there was great benefit to doing it in class and going over the answers in the end.

While there are a number of Common Core Standards in regards to mathematical modeling and writing algebraic expressions, I have selected a few from 7th Grade and High School Standards.

7th Grade Algebra
Use properties of operations to generate equivalent expressions.
·         Apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.
·         Solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations.
·         Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. 
·         Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.

How can you cover all those standards
in a stupid roller coaster assignment!!!
High School Algebra:
·         Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.
·         Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
·         Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity. 
·         Choose and produce an equivalent form of an expression to reveal and explain properties of the quantity represented by the expression.

This won’t be a three minute thrill ride, but this 21st Century Math Project is at least three days of glorious business related relevancy. 


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