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 160 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 Teach21 PBL (West Virginia Dept of Education) and Math Matters in Indiana, 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
- Teach 21 PBL Math Projects
More than 50 projects for students in grades 3-8, from West Virginia Dept. of Education. Projects are listed by grade level, so select a grade level to see a list of available math projects.
- 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
- 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.
- Geometry Projects | Math Matters in Indiana
Ten projects for high school students in grades 9-12. These projects were designed by Math Matters in Indiana 2009, authored by Indiana high school math teachers. They include targeted geometry skills and a project-based learning template.
- Architectural Planning with Pythagoras | Teach21 PBL
For students in eighth grade. Construct a small building with right angles, but without the use of measuring tools such as levels and protractors. From WV Dept of Education.
- Geometry Project | Teach21 PBL
Nine projects for students in grades 3-8. They incorporate math with art, sports, business, ecology, science, architecture, community service, and technology.
- 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.
- Fiscal Responsibility | Teach21 PBL
Designed for elementary school students in fourth grade. Children learn the importance of managing money. Students work in groups to create brochures and presentations for the student body on the importance of saving money.
- Cash for Your Clunker? | Teach21 PBL
For high school students in grades 9-12. Students determine the most cost-effective solution to owning an older car: keep it or trade it in for a rebate toward the purchase or lease of a more fuel-efficient model.
- Investing: Risk vs. Reward | Teach21 PBL
For high school students in grades 9-12. Students research investment strategies, develop an investment plan tailored to their comfort level, and present it to a financial planner.
- 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
- 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.
- PreAlgebra Projects | Math Matters in Indiana
For upper elementary and middle school students in grades 5-8. There are 17 projects aligned to Indiana math standards. To view project details, click the "log in as guest" button.
- Algebra 1 Projects | Math Matters in Indiana
For middle and high school students in grades 8-11. There are 20 projects aligned to Indiana math standards, all adaptable to Common Core. Be sure to click "log in as guest" to see project details.
- Algebra 2 Projects | Math Matters in Indiana
For high school students in grades 10-12. There are five projects aligned to Indiana standards, all easily adaptable to Common Core or your state's standards. "Log in as guest" to see project details.
- 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.
- Algebra I and Algebra II | Teach21 PBL
Algebra I: For middle and high school students in grades 8-11. WV Dept of Education teachers provide projects involving tourism, shopping, the environment, and housing development. Algebra II: For high school students in grades 10-12.
Precalculus and Calculus Projects: Ideas and Examples
- Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry | Teach21 PBL
Pre-Calculus: For high school students in grades 10-12. WV Dept of Education lists projects involving amusement park ride design, product development, and wind farm design. Trigonometry: For high school students in grades 9-12.
- Calculus | Teach21 PBL
For high school students in grades 11-12. WV Dept of Education has two projects: One on flood plain management, the other involving architectural design.
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.