Math Project Ideas: Examples of Project-Based Learning
Engaging Math Projects for All Grade Levels
If you've developed your own project-based learning lesson plans, you know that math project plans can be an octopus-like undertaking incorporating state or Common Core standards and possibly coordinating with other teachers—all within the class schedule. And then there are the necessary assessment rubrics.
I undertook my first project-based learning math plan with my 5th graders several years ago. My students were fully engaged and it was rewarding for all of us. But it was a bear to develop; I spent about 20 hours just on the plan. I swore then to find a more efficient way to build out my math projects.
Fellow teachers recommended many resources to me, and I found many online. These math projects, from schools across the US, provide overviews, activities, assessment rubrics, work-product descriptions, and ideas for reflection. Although they vary in format, you can adjust them to your students' learning situation and to curriculum demands.
Projects from Math Matters in Indiana and PBLU, in particular, are very detailed and provide excellent project-based learning lesson plan templates.
The projects are organized by topic and grade level, when available. Keep in mind that project-based learning lesson plans are usually cross-curricular. Math projects often incorporate STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—particularly in middle and high school classes.
General Math Projects - 70 Ideas and Examples
- Intel Math Project Units
Eighteen projects for students in grades K-12. These are cross-curricular units.
- Census at School
This project focuses on data collection and analysis for grades 4-12. Students gather data on their age, gender, hand preference, number of languages spoken, and more. They upload it to the national database and can download national data.
- What Will They Think? | PBLU.org
Eighth grade students make estimations for how a large group will answer survey questions on new food products based on a small survey sample, using graphs. Then they test the accuracy of their estimations.
Geometry Projects: Ideas and Examples
- Curriki Geometry | Curriki.org
For high school students in grades 9-12, this site consists of six projects that can be conducted piecemeal or all together in any order. Includes extensive teacher guides and student guides. It's a stellar team effort from Curriki members.
- This New House | High Tech High
For high school students, grades 10-12. In this project, students work in pairs to create an eco-friendly scale model of a home, and a pamphlet to explain their design. This is a really well-detailed project from High Tech High.
- The Maritime Project | High Tech High
For high school students in tenth grade. Partnering with a local maritime museum, students use geometry, US History, and writing to delve into maritime culture. They learn sextants and AutoCAD, with the option to design and build a sailing vessel.
- Design a State-of-the-Art High School | Edutopia.org
For high school students in grades 9-12. This project focuses on architectural design, function and cost. It is described in this article by the author, Eeva Reeder.
- Math in Origami | Texas Dept of Education
Although not stated, this math/art project can probably be adapted to students in grades 3-12.
- Mazer Tag | PBLU.org
For students in grades 10-11. Students design and play a laser game in which they must maneuver the laser through a series of obstacles to reach a target.
This is the premier guide for how to incorporate project-based learning into your children's daily lessons. Lori Pickert provides valuable advice on how to harness your child's natural questioning nature into inquiry-based projects that provide a sense of accomplishment and pride as they learn math, science, reading, writing, and art concepts.
The main critique of the book is that it is short on project ideas and structure. Use the detailed projects I list in this article as a jumping-off point for the guidance provided by Pickert.
Money Sense and Financial Management: Examples and Ideas
- BizWorld | PBLU.org
For students in grades 3-5. Students learn entrepreneurship by raising capital for, designing, manufacturing, and selling friendship bracelets. They maintain financial records throughout the process so they can value the net worth of their company.
- High School Financial Planning Program | NEFE
For high school students in grades 9-12. Register to download this holistic financial education program, or order materials to be delivered in a few weeks. Modules include planning, borrowing, earning capability, investing, and financial services.
- Entrepeneurial Education: The Successful Investor Project | Edutopia.org
For high school students in grades 11-12. Students work in teams to develop product ideas and a business plan. They present their products and plans at a business conference made up of community investors, educators, and business owners.
Algebra Projects: Ideas and Examples
- Teaching Linear Equations through Running a Small Business | Curriki
In this 8-week unit, students plan and execute a business, using linear equations to predict demand or cost/revenue information.
- Patterns, Variables and Functions: Integrated, Project-Based, Science and Mathematics Inquiries for
In this 8-week unity, students plan and execute a small business, using linear equations to to predict demand or cost/revenue information.
- Curriki Algebra 1 | Curriki.org
For middle and high school students in grades 6-10. There are five traditional instruction units aligned to Common Core standards, each of which culminate in a project. In Unit 1, students calculate break even cost of goods sold at a farmer's market.
- Greenbacks or Greenspace | Envision Schools Projects Exchange
For high school students in grades 9-12. Students weigh cost-effective solutions for using donated land in San Francisco for recreation or development or both. In addition to monetary costs and benefits, students must weigh community needs.
Math Project Ideas from Readers
Problem-based learning for students in grades 7-12. There are problems in algebra 1 and 2, geometry, and precalculus.