Engaging with Numbers: Three Challenging Seventh Grade Math Projects

Middle school teachers often use seventh grade math projects to help their students gain a deeper understanding of the course material. These projects are most effective when they are engaging, relevant to the students’ lives and closely related to topics that have been studied most recently in class. Math projects should also be challenging and thought-provoking for students. Here are three well-constructed math projects suitable for use in seventh grade.

1. What’s the best ice cream flavor? Survey and data analysis project

One engaging math project for seventh grade students require teams to gather and analyze data in order to answer a question (or several questions). This project is highly customizable; students can conduct surveys on anything from how many people use bicycles to get to school to their classmates’ favorite flavor of ice cream. With the guidance of a teacher, students conduct a survey of their peers or the surrounding community, then use the results to create graphs and spreadsheets, calculate statistics and draw conclusions about the data.

2. Odds of winning are low: the math of carnival games

For students learning about probabilities, studying gambling and carnival games can be both helpful and entertaining. Carnival games are typically constructed so that the probability of losing is higher than the probability of winning; otherwise, the creator of the game couldn’t earn a profit. Teachers can bring this real-life example into the classroom by asking students to analyze the probability of winning various carnival or casino games. Students can then use this information to draft a report ranking which games offer the most potential winnings for players. For an even more challenging activity, teachers can ask students to create their own carnival game, then calculate the probability of various outcomes. To provide students with an additional incentive, teachers can offer a prize to the student who creates the game with the highest potential “profit” margin.

3. How do you get rich? Financial planning and investing

Middle school students need to learn about money matters such as interest rates, basic investments, and savings. Unfortunately, these topics can be boring to students when they are discussed only in theory. In order make financial topics more relevant, students can participate in a realistic financial planning project. For example, students may be given a certain amount of pretend money to invest in stocks and savings accounts, or draft a business plan for a theoretical company. Students can compare the results of their investments to those of their classmates or get teacher feedback on their business plan.

Students learn best when they are engaged with the subject matter. By allowing students to complete hands-on projects in conjunction with traditional instruction, teachers can greatly increase subject matter retention. Regardless of the project chosen, teachers should do their best to make sure that all students are equipped to participate. Teachers should also provide guidance and support throughout the project to ensure that students remain on the right track.

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