Project-based learning is a terrific way to link your curriculum with real world events and applications of concepts that your students are learning. There are two pages in this section to help you and your learners:
Project Based Learning (Page 1): An essay about project based learning, which includes key questions and the methodology, how to design your own curriculum-based multimedia projects and WebQuests, and how to assess projects, including those involving multimedia. Additional resources are included to help learners understand the beauty of math in nature.
Projects on the Web (Page 2): Below is our list of math projects.
If you wish to become involved with project-based learning, it might be easier to start by participating in one or adapting one to your setting that has been designed by others.
Math projects don't have to be big.
Connect them to real-life events.
REALLY HOT: Bridges Inspire your students to be creative in a project connecting art to mathematics. Visit the Bridges Galleries where you will find numerous mathematical art exhibits, photos, and a virtual museum with creations (e.g., paintings, drawings, sculptures, spherical art, origami, prints, textiles) by mathematicians and artists who are mathematically inclined.
HOT: TheFuturesChannel.com contains videos that link math and science to real world applications and careers. For example, the section on Teaching & Learning contains Algebra in the Real World (by topics covered within a typical algebra course), Hands on Math (by strands), Problem Solving (by strategies), and more. Each video is accompanied by a lesson that delves into the video's content. Best of all, videos and classroom activities are free.
HOT: NASA Online has award winning science, math, and technology videos. Many are accompanied by instructional materials and interactive activities. For example, NASA CONNECT is "an inquiry-based and standards-based, Emmy® award-winning series of mathematics-focused, instructional programs for students in grades 6 - 8. The series includes a 30-minute instructional broadcast, a companion lesson guide, and an interactive web-based application." The learning modules include math simulation videos--short clips showing how algebra and geometry topics in ratios, percents, and graphing apply for gravity (Earth vs. Moon, Earth vs. International Space Station), auroral activity, Mach speed of airplanes, and balancing a teeter-totter. There's also one showing how a parabola and its equation relates to basketball.
See the short video Using Parabolas in Real Life at YouTube. Students analyzed parabolas found in real world--like the famous McDonald's golden arches.
HOT: Math teacher Thomas Petra has a terrific site, RealWorldMath.org, that integrates Google Earth and SketchUp into the math curriculum. Within this site you will find lesson ideas, examples, and downloads for mathematics that embrace active learning and constructivism. You'll find lesson downloads on concept lessons, measurement, project-based learning, exploratory lessons and space lessons. The focus is for grades 4 and up, but teachers of younger students may be able to find some uses or inspiration from the site. Higher level thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and creativity are encouraged as well as technology skills and social learning. The core of this site is mathematics, but many lessons lend themselves to interdisciplinary activities also. There are videos and Google Earth tutorials, Xtranormal tutorials, and HTML layout tutorials. A special section for teachers includes a blog.
Ask Dr. Math is an e-mail questioning and answering service for math students and their teachers. Dr. Math also gathers the best questions and answers into a searchable archive organized by grade level (elementary, middle school, high school) and topic (exponents, infinity, polynomials, etc.).
Buck Institute for Education (BIE) includes a database of projects, including over 160 for math, gathered from several project libraries on the Web. You can also search by Common Core standard.
CAMS (California Academy of Math and Science) Inventors Inc.: The Successful Investor Project "is designed to give high school seniors firsthand knowledge of the world of entrepreneurship. The project can encompass one full academic semester or an entire year, and it is broken down into five sections:
Questions on investments, and an individual investment portfolio
Entrepreneurship time (developing a business plan to market a product)
Time to invest (stock market research, selection, and tracking
The convention (a business convention where students display their business plan and product, with marketing and advertising)
Wrapping up the project (debriefing)" (Overview section)
CIESE, the Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education, sponsors and designs projects for elementary, middle, and high school students that utilize real time data available from the Internet, and global collaboration with peers and experts. Each project has a brief description and links to the National Science Standards and NCTM math standards it supports. All focus on science and mathematics, but have many interdisciplinary aspects as well, including social studies, language arts, art, and foreign languages. See the Math and Science Projects at http://www.ciese.org/mathprojects/. Projects have received accolades from the U.S. Department of Education, Discovery Channel, the National Science Teachers Association, and more. Extensive teacher resources are available to support technology integration, professional development, and Internet safety. Links to Real Time Data Sites are particularly useful.
CIMS (Center for Industrial Mathematics and Science) Industrial Mathematics Projects for High School Students include projects for learners of general math, pre-algebra, algebra I and II, geometry, pre-calculus, calculus, statistics, and modeling. Each includes an explanation and a downloadable classroom-ready version. Projects can also be sorted by industry.
HOT for CCSS: Curriki PBL Geometry is a free curriculum that takes a project-based approach for learning. There are several Common Core State Standards aligned projects, each of which focuses on at least two of the eight mathematical practice standards and includes a rubric for assessing mathematical practices. Teachers can select to use all or just some of the projects. Projects can be taught in any order and include technology and Web 2.0 resources "such as videos, documents, web pages, and dynamic geometry constructions, quizzes and exam suggestions for assessment, and other tools related to the project." You'll find:
Data Library from the Math Forum contains lists of on-going data-sharing projects as well as downloadable Excel and Clarisworks spreadsheets along with other sources of data on the web.
Electronic Emissary from the University of Texas connects your students to projects involving professional experts and uses e-mail for mentoring. The project went online in 1993 and is believed to be the longest-running Internet-based telementoring and research effort serving K-12 students and teachers around the world. Project-based online conversations typically range in length from 6 weeks to a full academic year, as students' needs and interests dictate.
Engineering the Future: The Educator's Guide to Building and Construction includes a "collection of lessons, activities, projects, videos, and more, broken down by grade level [K-4, 5-8, 9-12, and When I Grow Up]... to assist educators in teaching young people core areas of study by introducing them to the world of building and construction" (Overview section). Each grade level group relates building and construction to various STEM fields of study and then provides practical math projects/activities suitable for the grade level.
ePals can be your portal to a global community. Schools and districts can join for free to safely connect, collaborate and learn using protected email and blog solutions. There are several existing projects, plus online forums for teachers, students, family, and projects.
Global SchoolNet has a Projects Registry of more than 2,500 annotated listings of teacher-led global projects. It is searchable by date, age level, geographic location, collaboration type, technology tools used, or keyword. Narrow your search also by curriculum area. Join an existing project or announce one of your own. The database has several hundred projects addressing math.
GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) is a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based science and education program. Students use the scientific method to create hypotheses, analyze data, draw conclusions and report their results through the Internet. They take scientifically valid measurements in the fields of atmosphere, hydrology, soils, and land cover/phenology - depending upon local curricula. GLOBE trains teachers to help students improve their achievement in science and math, and in the use of computer and network technology.
Hands-On Math Projects, Volume 2, by Carolyn S. Carter with Sara Cohen, Marian Keyes, Patricia S. Kusimo, and Crystal Lunsford (2002), contains two chapters devoted to "Projects That Help Middle-School-Age Youth Discover the Science and Mathematics in Everyday Life." The Mathematics of Quilting exposes learners to plane geometry, symmetry, and tessellations. In Making Art through Mathematics, learners explore Cartesian coordinates, 2-D and 3-D geometry, measurement, symmetry, and volume. This is a pdf document.
iEARN (International Education and Resource Network) "enables young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world." Math projects, for example, include Mathematics and Agriculture (ages 10+), Connecting Math to Our Lives (all ages), and Mathematics Virtual Learning Circle (all ages). iEARN offers both face-to-face and online professional development workshops and courses for educators seeking to integrate online global project work into their classrooms. Workshops include the technical, collaborative and organizational skills needed to participate.
Making Mathematics includes open-ended research projects suitable for grades 7-12, which was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation during 199-2002. Math projects, which remain online for replication, are rated from 1 (no algebra) to 4 (advanced algebra and beyond). Projects contain the problem statement, prerequisites, warm-up problems, hints, resources, teacher notes, extension problems, results. Additional resources include a teacher handbook with advice and activities for teaching research skills, a mentor handbook, and mathematics tools with important supporting content regarding proof, number theory, Pascal's triangle, Geometry of complex numbers, Iteration, and Numbers and Infinity.
Mathematics Classroom Examples at the Galileo Educational Network Association and Mt. Royal College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada contains a number of inquiry-based activities with special sections devoted to Math Fairs ("That's a Good Problem"), puzzles with printable worksheets, elementary and secondary project investigations, Japanese Lesson Study, and additional resources.
Mind Research Institute K-12 Game-a-thon is an annual math challenge in which students "design, build and share a game that features creative and unusual solutions to mathematical problems. Teams of one or more students, along with a teacher or parent in a coordinator role, can invent card games, board games, apps, outdoor games or anything else that addresses a mathematical topic ranging from counting to irrational numbers to measurement to modeling." The challenge begins February 1 with entries due July 15. Winners are announced in August and top entries are invited to showcase their work in September in a Math Fair (location and date TBA).
Models of Excellence, an initiative of Expeditionary Learning in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is "a curated, open-source collection of models of high-quality PreK-12 student work, along with resources to support the use of exemplary student work to inspire and elevate teaching and learning" (FAQ section). You'll find many examples of math projects and projects related to other subjects, and resources that can be filtered by topics, such as planning, critique and revision, standards, differentiation, mindsets, assessment, and more.
National Math Trail: This project receives support from the US Department of Education's Star Schools program, through the Satellite Education Resources Consortium (SERC), and NEC Foundation. K-12 teachers and students share the math that exists in their own environments. "Students explore their communities and create one or more math problems that relate to what they find. Teachers submit the problems to the National Math Trail site, along with photos, drawings, sound recordings, videos--whatever can be adapted to the Internet." Submissions are posted to the site, and indexed according to grade level and math topic. The site clearly addresses NCTM standards, including connections, communication, problem solving.
PBL Pathways includes math projects for learners studying upper level math courses such as College Algebra, Precalculus, Calculus, and Finite Math.
Science Buddies has numerous project ideas categorized within different areas of science. Among those are over 100 math projects of varying levels of difficulty.
Statistics: A Curiosity Factor is a project suitable for use with middle school or high school students studying the concept of collecting and analyzing data. It also provides an introduction to survey research.
Teach 21 Project Based Learning from the West Virginia Department of Education contains projects in several content areas: mathematics, reading/English language arts, science, social studies, and so on. Pick your subject and grade level. Mathematics, for example, includes projects for grades 3-8 and high school, including for algebra 1, geometry, algebra 2, conceptual mathematics, probability and statistics, trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus.
Teacher Tap: WebQuests. If you are not confident about designing your own WebQuest, this resource will help you to locate and evaluate WebQuests by grade level and content area that have been designed by others.
David Warlick of Landmarks for Schools (http://landmark-project.com/) reminds teachers and students to seek permission when using information from web sites designed by others. He has provided simple to use Permission Templates for this purpose, which will automatically go to the author or web master of the site you wish to use in instruction or for a school project. Use his Citation Machine to automatically create references in APA, MLA, Turabian, or Chicago format. Students then can cut and paste those references into their projects.
Share Classroom Projects with an Authentic Audience.
Consider having your students create their own digital storybooks to display projects. Mixbook is free and can be used as a collaborative classroom tool for that. There is a program for educators, too, to create student accounts for better management.
Learn about the technical side of creating multimedia projects, including working with images and video.
See CT4ME Technology Integration