Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Math Field Trips

     Do you know of a better way to learn math than by going on a field trip?  Make the experience memorable by involving students from beginning to end. You do not have to plan everything alone.  Form a team of students, parents or teachers who are willing to collaborate with the itinerary, budget, and paperwork.  The following are a few suggestions:
The above picture is a water fountain in Paris France.  View the picture on Flickr at

1.  Bank:  Visit the Federal Reserve Bank to see how money is made.  Several local main branch banks are willing to give tours as well.  Discuss credit card interest rates and payment plans.  Discuss the history money.  Estimate the amount and worth in a stack of ones, tens, twenties, etc.
a.      Low Budget: Invite the manager to visit your classroom.  Combine a few classes to include other teachers.  Make sure they bring food or include a hands-on activity.
2. Bowling/ Putt-putt:  Let students calculate their scores.  Use fractions to write their individual score compared to the team’s score.  Students can calculate their average per frame.
a.    Low Budget:  Talk to the Physical Education Teacher to use the gym.  They may have equipment to practice with.
3.  Downtown:  Take pictures of architecture and sculptures in a designated area.  Research the artist and make comparisons of their work.  Calculate the height of the building.  Describe the type of material used.  Research the cost of the materials at a local hardware store.  Use an online resource to evaluate the detailed map directions from the school to the site or from home to the site.
a.       Low Budget:  Research pictures online in the computer lab or allow students to get pictures on their own.  Make of collage with descriptions.
4.   Farm:  Calculate the farm’s overall yield and allow them to work in a small area by hand.  Are there any recycled items?  Compare wholesale versus retail cost once the product lands in a store.  If the farm has animals, be sure to check for allergies.  Describe the purpose of the animals and all their benefits.
5. Food Court:  Have students calculate the number of customers served in a period of time.  Compare restaurant data.  Research the restaurant.  Interview a few employees.  What is the best seller?  How much money is made in 5 minutes, 1 hour?  How nutritious is the menu?  How much seating is available?
a.      Low Budget:  Interview the school’s dietitian and cafeteria workers.  Research your school’s policies on food.  Create a presentation using a spreadsheet and charts.
6.  Park:  Get a map of the park if possible and have a scavenger hunt for geometric shapes.  Describe the type of material used for walkways, water fountains, gardens, and attractions.  Check the local hardware store for material costs.  Is there an entry fee involved?  Take pictures of plants and the scenery to relate math concepts.  Otherwise look up the address on Google Earth to analyze and critique the picture.  Make annotations using Flickr or other easy to use software.
a.      Low Budget:  Walk around the school to analyze the grounds.  Interview the Head Custodian.
7.  Parking Lot:  Calculate the number of spaces.  Does the cost change depending on the time of day or event?  Calculate the amount of potential money earned in a day.  What means does the vendor use to collect payment?
a.      Low Budget:  Get information from a paid parking lot in advance.  Pretend the school’s parking lot costs the same amount.  Collect data over a period of time and calculate profit and expenses.
8. Restaurant: Speak to the owner and chef before you go.  Have the students calculate the amount of ingredients needed for a recipe.  Use proportions.  Compare online recipes to actual research.  Describe inspection regulations and food temperature requirements.  Notice their score for inspection and analyze important data.
a.      Low Budget:  Invite a chef or someone in Culinary Art School to your classroom.  Combine a few classes to include other teachers.  Make sure they bring food or include a hands-on activity.
9.  Sporting Event:  Get tickets to a local basketball, baseball, football, or hockey game.  No matter which one you choose there are a lot of statistics involved.  Include concession stand items, and seating arrangements.
a.      Low Budget:  Use the newspaper to get the data needed.
10Supermarket:  Create a budget and grocery list.   Clip coupons and compare prices.   What advantages does a frequent customer card have?  Use Thinking Maps or Graphic Organizers to analyze the data.
a.      Low Budget:  Get copies of grocery receipts ahead of time.

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