Last week, my morning classes from our Knabusch Mathematics and Science Center were supposed to go to Sterling State Park to plant some trees and do some beach clean-up (a yearly activity). Due to the weather, we were unable to go and I was left scrambling for an activity that I could do with both my geometry class and algebra class the day before spring break. The week prior, one of my afternoon students had wondered how many students you could fit in the classroom.

So, I posed the question "How many people could be stuffed into this classroom?" That is all that I gave them. I explained that in life you will be given a problem to solve where you would have to do research and make decisions that will impact your solution.

It was interesting to see the different ways that the two classes focused on solving the problem. My geometry students were very particular as they measured the classroom and researched the averages of a person. My algebra students were more likely to use one of the group members to calculate measurements around the room (ie. one person per square tile). One girl immediately came up and asked for the worksheet that goes with the activity. I explained that there was no worksheet and that her group would create their own worksheet with the questions that they need answers for and how they answered them.

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Tags: applied math, geometry, modeling, problem solving, real world

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