Saturday, March 30, 2013


Redesign is probably too strong of a term. I added a row of tabs! This will help keep things better organized the math projects by content and make it more easily searchable. Not that you wouldn't want to re-read every single entry -- well actually no human would ever want to do that.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Cool Website Spotlight -- iEARN

With the click of a mouse students can interact with a classroom on the other side of the world. With a simple Facebook friend search, anyone can connect with people from every country on the planet. We live in an era of ubiquitous opportunities to collaborate globally -- the challenge is actually doing it. Schools desire for students to learn more about the world than just a culture’s food, landmarks and holidays. Though the experience will differ greatly for each student, a typical K-12 Education may involve more orientalist viewpoints influenced by western culture. This is a by-product of community values, teacher education, time and resources, improvement can be made in all areas.
iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) is one of the largest global collaboration networks that is specifically designed for students and teachers. More than 130 countries and over 30,000 schools are connected with each other through this online platform. According to their website they estimate that 2,000,000 students each day are engaged in collaboration projects. These projects are hosted and promoted through iEARN and allows students and teachers to engage in the same work while in different parts of the world. In my opinion, the projects that are developed on iEARN are more geared toward young grade levels and the humanities. They foster classroom connections for things such as student art exchanges, poetry sharing and community gardening.  IEARN is also geared toward professionally developing teachers who wish to integrate online work in their classroom. Through online workshops teachers develop capacity to engage in global collaboration opportunities while improve their own personal global competence. 

How would I use this in my math classroom? Connecting with a math teacher around the world is a very cool idea and I'm exploring how it could be useful in a team teaching model. I believe there is also value in students seeing that similar concepts are taught all around the world. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Design a Zoo -- Integrated Geometry Area & Perimeter Project

While your Justin Beiber lovers may not be willing to admit it... they like doing assignments with ostriches on them. It's just a fact. In this 21st Century Math Project, students will plan and accommodate animals from all around the world. Turn your 7th period into a zoo.
Name: Design a Zoo
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Geometry skills)
Math Concepts: Area, Perimeter, Irregular Figures, Apothems, Scale, Basic Algebra Skills
Interdisciplinary Connections: Design Planning, Zoo Stuff, Architecture.
Teaching Duration: 3-4 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $8 for a 27 Page PDF (1 project, 2 assignment and answer keys) 
PDF Version: Design a Zoo @ TPT

The Product: Students use a budget to purchase animals and architecture with the goal of building the zoo that can create the most revenue. 

I have well-fed pet meerkats in
my basement
Not going to lie. I indulged myself on this project. My 3 year old son loves going to the zoo. My 1 year old daughter would love going to the zoo if she realized she were at the zoo. But the secret is Mommy and Daddy love going to the zoo. Luckily we live next to like the 2nd best zoo in America -- the Columbus Zoo

At our zoo, the exhibits are so wonderfully accommodating for the animals. Others we have been to feel like the animals are packed in so tight they are sitting on my lap. While some may prefer it, I'd like my zoo animals to be able to turn around. Naturally the idea of area and perimeter fit perfectly with this idea. Sprinkle a little Zoo Swagg and hopefully this is a project that middle schoolers and high schoolers alike will enjoy.

Please tell me that assignment with the
buffalo on it has some geometry in it.

I choose to focus on unique shapes, regular polygons with apothems and irregular figures, students determine which exhibits fit which animals needs. Of course with irregular figures their will be needs for the practice with rectangles and circles, but in my experience these are done to death.

The assignments break down like this:

- In “Animal Wrangling” students will use area and perimeter skills to meet the different needs of different animals.

- In “Cage Match” students will determine the size of potential exhibits that which includes a basic shapes, regular polygons with apothems, and irregular figures. Which animal best fits in each exhibit? They will calculate and figure it out!

- In “Design a Zoo” students will dive in completely where they will work with a budget of $2,000,000 to select animals and build appropriate exhibits. A little algebra required.

- In "Zoo: Year 1" students will calculate how their choices led to profit. Tally up the student who has the most cash on hand to figure out a winner!

EXTENSION: Expanding the scale of the property can allow students to go crazy and build massive zoos. They will be somewhat limited in this assignment with space (intentionally so), but they may enjoy going farther with it! If you have an old copy of the PC game Zoo Tycoon they might enjoy it!

Lions, Tigers, Bears and 21st Century Math Projects. Math it up. Keep it real. Peace!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Game of Life -- Financial Literacy -- Real World Math Project

A pure real world 21st Century Math Project that can work for a lot of different ages! Real world math projects are one of the most sought after resources. In my opinion, most everything I do is a real world math projects, but when most teachers want a REAL WORLD MATH PROJECT they are looking for something like this. So of course I had to do it, right? 

Keep it as real... as possible.
Name: The Game of Life
Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Basic math skills)
Math Concepts: Basic Operations, Percents, Order of Operations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Budgets, Finances, Taxes, Monthly Payments, ummm. LIFE!
Teaching Duration: 5-10 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $10 for a 61 Page PDF (1 project, 3 assignment and handouts) 
PDF Version: The Game of Life @ TPT

The Product: Students are given a career and create a budget and make many financial choices along the way. "5 years later", they'll see if they are still standing.

Alright, money, real stuff, I dig.

When are we ever going to use this. While some math teachers are perfectly comfortable espousing all of the interdisciplinary connections and are able to articulate which professionals authentically use the topic they are teaching, there are many others who just want to say... uhhhh.... YOU JUST DO! 

Keeping it real, the average person isn't going to run into systems of inequalities very often, but they will certainly need to have mastered those basic operations! Percents and data analysis will also come into play nearly every day, but any time you see, touch, taste or smell money... they are sensing the jedi powers of math. 

Apparently it took an economic crash for our country to realize 90% of people have a hard time managing their money. So what do you do? Mandate a Financial Literacy component for every graduate! If you are the lucky math teacher that this got passed to, this might be for you .

Budget? Is that a candy bar?
I've tried to make the most awesome real world math project ever created. While I'm not sure I reached those heights (it's the thought that counts, right?) I've made something pretty cool. [Hey Reader, go to TPT and download the preview, you can see pretty much everything]. Housing, transportation, food, savings, debts, extras, donations, having babies, getting married, accidents, it's all here! I'm pretty sure my brother and I played one too many games on our Life board game. 

Of course, we don't jump right into the game first. I have designed three assignments that intend to build the skill necessary to survive in the real world!

Here's pretty much the breakdown.

In “Bookkeeping Basics” students analyze the spending of different individuals and determine whether or not they have the available funds necessary to purchase an item they would like. “Can I afford this?” 

In “Budget Busters” this assignment asks students to analyze the budgets and actual spending of different individuals. Are they spending within their budget? More they can analyze a budget, students will need to determine net pay after calculating their taxes. Students will need to translate between percents, fractions and decimals. 

Can't you just do some drill and kill?!
Answer - "Um never".
In “Monthly Payment 101”, this assignment asks students to calculate monthly payments of different loans. Students will also be asked to choose between different loans. 

and this leads to the mega project --

The [simulated] Game of Life. This project is multi-faceted, but you can modify (shorten as desired).  

Students will choose between 54 career cutouts which starts them off with an annual income, income tax rate, debt and savings account. 

With this information students will…

Consolidate their Debt. Students will choose a single loan to pay it back. They need to be careful what they pick because they don’t want to have a monthly payment they can’t afford. 

Once they have their loan’s monthly payment information they will…

Complete a Budget. They will calculate their Net Monthly Income and Create a Budget for their spending.

With their budget set, it is time to make…

Choices! They will select a plan for housing, utilities, phone, food, transportation, savings and extras. They need to be sure not to spend too much money. (All data is included). 

Once they are done with these tasks, they will put your choices to the test. They will complete SIMULATED YEARS. 

You will give students an Update (30 included) which will change  information regarding their employment, family changes and unforeseen obstacles! 

Students may get married or have children. If they get married, they need to find someone else in the class that also got married and POOF they are now partners on this project. They are married. If for instance, on their next update, they get divorced, they need to split their savings and move on. 

Students will then reassess their finances, re-evaluate choices and complete their Year 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5) assignment. 

EXTENSION: There's some pretty neat Financial Literacy software popping up online, but most of them are pay sites. 

Celebrate Congressional legislation with a 21st Century Math Project! If this is interesting I can do some more financial literacy stuff. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carbon Footprint -- Environment Focused STEM Project

Bring an authentic environment-based 21st Century Math Project  to your Algebra classroom with Multi-step inequalities! Help student understand why we are still getting blizzards in the spring!

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra 1, skills)
Math Concepts: Multi-step Inequalities, Unit Conversion, Multiple Representations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Travel, Local Food, Carbon Emissions, Environmental Science
Teaching Duration: 2-4 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 27 Page PDF (1 project, 2 assignment and handouts) 
PDF Version: Carbon Footprint @ TPT

The Product: Students complete an Amazing Race style challenge where they must finish a cross country trip and select choices that are within their carbon footprint, financial and time budgets!

Hey kid, all administrators drive Hummers.
It's required! No, I don't know about its
carbon footprint! Oh, really?!
While you may not raise sufficient capital to put a fleet of windmills in your school parking lot, you can still teaching some environmentally conscious mathematics! 

In the 2000s, the Kyoto Protocol aimed to set goals for an individuals carbon emissions by country. The United States decided this wasn't something they wanted to be part of. When doing some inequality mathematics, you can quickly see how challenging this would be for an average, I like to drive my own car 30 miles a day and eat a hamburger for dinner type of person. Although students may not make an drastic life changes (maybe they will) it will at least be an assignment that ensures they at least see a link!

Although students will learn elements of carbon emissions, the lessons focus on creating and using multi-step inequalities to model situations and make decisions. With an increasing focus on environmental issues this explores a view on a science topic that students may never have been exposed to before.

You mean like I have a theoretical
footprint because I eat Hot Cheetos?

-- Planes, Trains & Automobiles.  Students will write multistep inequalities to determine if individual’s daily transportation needs exceeds the CO2 emissions totals described in the Kyoto Protocol.

--  Well-Traveled Food. Students will use the Food Footprint Chart to complete this assignment which provides a look at food production and transportation emissions and the difference between local and traditional food sources.

which leads to the project --

-- the Amazing [more environmentally conscious] Race. Using a CO2 Emissions Per Activity chart, student will make travel and food choices on a cross country trip.

This is all great and everything,
but what could be do to take action
in our local community?
It doesn't take much looking to find this issue in the news in one shape or form and kids like travel and food maybe it's a great match for you!

EXTENSION: Student could certainly track their own Footprint over a 24 hour period. Other ideas could be things like a recycling club, a push for automated light switches, a student presentation to the school. 

This 21st Century Math Project is endorsed by Polar Bears everywhere! Well that's an exaggeration, I've only asked the two at our zoo and I'm not sure if that's exactly a representative random sample since they were born in captivity.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Correlation All-Star -- Integrated Sports Project

Bring an authentic sports-based 21st Century Math Project  to your Algebra, Algebra 2 or PreCalculus classroom with Lines of Best Fit and Correlations! In my opinion, correlations are the most under taught skill in all of high school math! I mean for a student to function in the real world, tell my 5 topics that are more important. Do it! 

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12 (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, PreCalculus skills)
Math Concepts: Scatterplots, Lines of Best Fit, Correlations
Interdisciplinary Connections: Sports and Finance
Teaching Duration: 4-5 Days (can be modified)
Cost: $6 for a 42 Page PDF (1 project, 3 assignment and handouts) 

The Product: Students do an in depth statistical analysis around the research question: "Can Money Buy Championships?"

Come over here and let me tell you
about when I saw Ralph Kiner score
the winning touchdown to win the
Stanley Cup!

Sports always seems to me to every math teachers go to engaging word problem. If it can be done with sports in it, then they'll like it. I always had a strange perspective on this because I loved sports -- but I knew who many of the people in my classes didn't. I always wondered how they felt during those problems. 

What's a football?
So here we are my largest foray into an authentic sports project. I've tried to write this in such a way that it can be super engaging for young sports fans (and old teacher sports fans!), but the problems are rigorous enough that the math takes precedent. This unit is really meant to be taught with TI-Graphing Calculators or in a Computer Lab with Microsoft Excel so if a student isn't into the yucky sports stuff, then they can grab onto an engaging technology (Graphing Calculator Instruction are included!)

Depending on when you teach lines of best fit, this fits! It could work as an advanced Algebra 1 project (I love teaching regression in Algebra 1) or a warm-up project for Pre-Calculus. Wherever correlation coefficient belongs in your curriculum -- this can go there!
Using data from the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL students investigate correlations to some of sports most common questions like:

"Do more shots result in more goals?"
"Do hitters or pitchers have more impact on a team's wins?"
"What NFL stat is most strongly correlated with wins?"

and the grand-daddy...

"Can money buy championships?"

Those of you who work in small-markets, maybe a little surprised by the results. The assignments in this project, breakdown like this:

Hmm... could I use this type of math
when I'm doing research for my capstone
project? Oh great question, most definitely!
- In “He Shoots, He Scores!!!” students will construct scatterplots and draw lines of best fit. While using NHL shot and goal data.

- In “Offense or Defense” students will use TI Graphing Calculates to create scatterplots and determine lines of best fit and correlation coefficients using Runs Scored and Runs Allowed MLB data.

- In “Gridiron Challenge” students will look at NFL data to determine which statistics has the strongest correlation with winning.

-- AND FINALLY in “Can Money Buy Championships?” students will look at data from the four major American sports leagues to answer this inquiry question.

EXTENSION: You could encourage students to seek out their own data and figure out a correlation for themselves! You can open it up to the rest of the world of statistics -- poverty vs. education of women, ACT results vs. college GPA -- anything!

It seems around every corner there's a new STEM school popping up and 21st Century Math Projects can help! If this is interesting I've also integrated projects for an Egg Drop, Box Car Derby and Solar Oven.