I am always trying to create or find projects where each student’s project will be different than every other student’s in the class because it is more authentic this way. And of course, I want it to be applicable in the real world! This is not always easy to make because if every student’s project is different, or even has an unlimited number of solutions, checking each one is extremely difficult and time-consuming for the teacher. Well, guess what?!...the project I’m about to tell you about is authentic AND I was able figure out how each student could have a different solution. And at the same time, have an answer key for the teacher with all the possible solutions….I know, fabulous, right!! And it covers one of the most popular math topics…Linear Systems of Equations!
Oh wait, one more cool thing about it….it’s not quite STEM because there isn’t any engineering, but I’d say it’s STAM (Science, Technology, Art, and Math)…fun little twist…so check it out:
Every project needs to have a focus and goal. In this project, students are to…
RESEARCH & SOLUTIONS
Students select a tree from the Arbor Day site and find the growth rate range and mature size. Students write two equations – 1 to represent their tree’s growth over time and 2 - their teacher’s tree growth over time. Students use the substitution or elimination method to solve the system and explain the solution. Included is a spreadsheet where the teacher can record the student name, tree, and growth rate to ensure each student has a different growth rate.
Student’s us graph paper or Desmos to re-create their system of linear equations by graphing both lines. Students also draw, paint, or find a picture of their tree online and label it by finding specific characteristics of their tree. I learn a lot of neat things about different trees from each project. And students love the artsy aspect!
Students find at what year the trees are the same height and determine if it’s realistic based on the year each tree will reach their mature size. This helps students understand that not every solution in the real world will make sense, so it’s important to critically think about the results.
As with any project, I do use a rubric, which is 100% editable for teachers. This project is evaluated on the following criteria: neatness/organization, accurate research, writing a systems of equations and finding the correct solution, the graph, analyzing the results, and the visuals. I also include an answer key for the questions and all of the possible scenarios/solutions depending on the growth rate of each tree in comparison with the growth rate of the teacher’s tree. This is a HUGE time saver for teachers!
This project is very dynamic, creative, and fun! Here are some of my student’s Life of Trees Projects:
Click on the Life of Trees Project cover below to go directly to the resource. Look at the preview to learn even more about this activity!
Here are more resources for systems of equations:
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