The following collection of resources have been assembled by the TES Maths Panel. They can be downloaded for free by registering on the TES website.
“Why are we doing this, Sir?”, “When are we ever going to use this in our lives?” – Two pretty standard questions that I for one have been asked many times as a teacher. Functional projects are a way to avoid ever being asked this again! It gives teachers a chance to bring lots of different areas of maths together and apply them to a real life situation.
Here are some project ideas for you to use to either bring a unit of work together, or just to have a bit of fun at the end of term.
Pick up and run project
These three resources feature a variety of project ideas with lots of detail. The tasks may need amending to suit the particular needs of your group but if you are just looking for some inspiration, this is a great place to start. There are three levels to choose from; Gold, which is suitable for 16-19 year olds; Silver which is aimed at the 14-16 age group, and Bronze for younger students, typically aged 11-14.
Making a drawing of a dart board requires a lot more maths than you’d think, or should I say, what the students think. Your students are going to be practising lots of different mathematical skills without even realising it.
Like the author says, this project will produce fantastic display work and the students are going to have fun completing it. This might appear to be quite a low ability task at first, but one possible extension could be to introduce algebra to investigate the number of lines drawn inside the circle, for varying sizes of sector.
This resource has a cross-curricular link with history. Explore the history of code breaking and its uses during the Second World War, but don’t forget about all the maths that goes with it. There are a variety of tasks all based around the concept of cracking codes – very engaging for students.
This project involves students building a model of their own school. They have to go outside and gather all the necessary measurements, construct nets for the different buildings and ultimately construct a miniature version of their very own school. A great way to engage any enthusiastic architects.
You won’t have any problems getting them on side with this task. Students get to design their own theme park, choosing which rides they would like to put in there and ultimately have to calculate the running costs of their park. From the cost of building the rides, to maintaining the toilets, and even throwing in a bit of advertising to boost the number of visitors, this sounds like a lot of fun.
I’ve seen this task completed many times by science teachers, but why should they be the ones that get to have all the fun? There is plenty of maths to be explored here and you’ll struggle to find a student who doesn’t want to build a rocket and fire it up into the sky.
There are many resources out there on TES Connect that involve designing a particular room, whether it is a classroom, bedroom or student common room. The maths that accompanies each project is very similar but I chose this resource on designing your own office space because of the visual stimulation that the author has included in the presentation. An initial ‘hook’ is needed for some students when being introduced to a new project and this resource has it.
What would the average student look like? What would their likes and dislikes be? Students can take this task in whatever direction they wish, whether they decide to look at the physical attributes of the ‘average’ student or focus more on the personality. This comes with a slight warning regarding the ’personal-questions/sensitive-students-combo’ but apart from that, it sounds like it will be a very interesting task indeed.
This project has an obvious cross-curricular link with geography and seems like it will be a huge amount of fun to complete. I doubt you will come across a student questioning when they are going to ever need this in their lives, unless they are planning on never going on holiday. Students have the option of staying in cheap, hostel like accommodation or choosing to go for the more upmarket 5-star resorts.
Phil Eden, TES Maths panel