Friday, December 4, 2015

Figure This!

Pi, Mathematics, Love Locks  The website Figure This:  Math challenges for Families is a part of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and is filled with lots of short performance tasks.  That's right, performance tasks but these differ from most others.

There are about 80 challenges (as the site calls them) that are classified according to Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Number, or Statistics and Probability.  In addition, there is a short description giving you an idea what each challenge focuses on.

As for the challenges themselves, they are very short with illustrations and hints to help students work their way through the problem.   You do have the choice of selecting a specific problem or taking a random challenge.

Furthermore, there is a teacher corner where you can go to download the files in a pdf format.  In addition, the teacher corner has ideas for teachers, the standards these challenges met in the past. Although these problems may not meet current common core, the standards of performance will help build persistence.

I like that some of these challenge srelate to real life.  For instance, one found under rate of change (slope) that deals with salaries.  The problem uses information from the early 90's on women's vs men's salaries.  The question asks if woman's salaries are catching up to men's salaries as stated in the headline.  Once student figure the answer to this, a second part could be added with current figures to see if the rate has changed and if so by how much?  In addition, there is a note at the bottom of the exercise that tells you who uses this type of data.

I just found the "Did you know?" button which provides additional tidbits on the topic from the challenge.  I clicked on it and learned something about salaries but the information is dated but with a bit of research, the students can see how these pieces of information have changed.  In 1996, Germans had the highest per hour pay in manufacturing.  I'm wondering if Germany still pays the most or if another country has taken that honor.

I think it would be easy to add a small worksheet requiring students to go online to research who gets paid the most for manufacturing or which city has the highest salaries in the country.