Project-Based Learning & Mathematics

While your English, History and Science colleagues will likely have little trouble finding sources for "good" content-area projects, it is difficult to find "good" math projects. Sure, Project-Based Learning is great when you can integrate multiple content areas, but even then there are times that you are more focused on one content area than another. Math has proven to be difficult to work with in a Project-Based Learning environment. Never mind the fact that you somehow have to sneak in lots of procedural practice if you want to make sure your students are ready for the big high-stakes exams that come around every Spring time, there just isn't a good way to teach mathematics solely with Project-Based Learning. That being said, it just makes the Project-Based Learning that you can do through mathematics all the more valuable.

Think about it, sure it may be difficult to find a time when students are going to need to know how to factor a polynomial function or a rational function, but it is also difficult to find a time when adults use either of those in their lives on a consistent basis. However, creating equations and setting up constraints and trying to stay within those? Figuring out how much money you'll save my switching from one company to another for your cable/telephone/internet is certainly a real-world scenario. And yes, not every adult would write an equation to solve it, they may just add up the price and the months, but students will certainly find more utility in tackling a problem of this sort than a made-up "real-world" scenario that will almost certainly not happen. Really, who sets up similar right triangles to figure out the distance to a boat in the river when it is traveling 4m/s down stream?

Other Math Project-Based Learning Resources: