Theoretical math is not easily accessible by young students, which is why middle school math projects are ideal for getting them to see math applied in real-world situations. It's important for teachers to tap into the students' interests to ensure math projects are successful. They can discuss topics with students or, even better, survey students' interests. For example, if 95 percent of the students build model cars as a hobby, perhaps the cafeteria survey project could turn into a car survey project.
Geometry Map Project
Assign students the task of designing a map that includes several different kinds of lines, angles and triangles. The map can be of a town, their neighborhood or school, or even a made-up place. Instructors can feel free to be as specific or vague as to what the map includes, but is should contain parallel and perpendicular streets; one obtuse angle and one acute angle formed as the result of two streets intersecting; and buildings in the shape of quilateral triangle, a scalene triangle, and an isosceles triangle. Finally, the map must also include a compass rose. Then, students should include at least five directions from one to place to another on the map using the words parallel, perpendicular and intersect.
Give the students the following probability problem to solve and illustrate. In the real-world scenario, there are 350 parking spaces in the parking lot of the school. On a normal Tuesday, 150 people drive and park in random parking spots. The students must determine the number of different ways the cars can be parked in the lot. Determine the probability of two or more specific cars parking side by side on any day, for two and three consecutive days, and for no consecutive days. Illustrate the four probability days.
Have the students read "Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School." The book is full of middle school brain teasers and word problems. For example, students must solve cryptograms where numbers are replaced by letters in arithmetic equations and they must determine the numbers the letters represent. Either assign the students to go through the book and read the stories and complete the math teasers or assign the students to come up with their very own seemingly impossible math teasers.
Ask students to come up with five different questions to ask 50 people in the school about what foods they'd like to see in the cafeteria. The questions should ideally suggest five different food suggestions, but the creative angle is up to the students. The students should then graph and chart the results of their survey.