Writing to Learn Math

Students review fundamental concepts from Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics and demonstrate their understanding via repeated short writing exercises which strengthen students' abilities to describe math operations and processes using words and statements. Students then complete indepth investigations on three topics: 1) Is the Coney Island Coin Toss Game Fair?; 2) How do manufacturers decide to package grocery store items?; and 3) How does the student government of BCS determine the ticket price for a dance? Lastly, students choose an extension for one of their three investigations by conducting an experiment, collecting data, writing a paper, and preparing a defense.

Readings: 
Essays using math from trade magazines
Former students' Math papers
Significant Assignments: 

Students write out every step involved in factoring a polynomial to extreme detail and compare with other students.

Students compare written analyses of a similar problem to see how different styles of writing help a writer to convey his/her point.

Significant Activities or Projects: 

What do we know about carnival games? They may seem so easy to win, but in reality, we don’t win every time. Students investigate the original design of the Coney Island Coin Toss Game and decide if its design gives players a fair chance to win.

Walk into any supermarket and look at the shapes lining the shelves. Manufacturers consider dozens of factors before determining which shape will best suit the consumer and boost the company's profits. Students explore package design and uncover some of the reasons for the shapes that manufacturers have chosen. Students use their knowledge of geometry and algebra to investigate different ways to decide whether or not it is better for manufacturers to sell items in “bulk” or to sell individually packaged items and determine if manufacturers are packaging their items as efficiently as possible.

Suppose you are a student council member who is responsible for planning a BCS student dinner dance. Plans include hiring a DJ and buying and serving dinner. You want to keep the ticket price as low as possible to encourage student attendance. Identify and use systems of equations to analyze costs and make decisions. Then write a report detailing your choice of band, the cost of a catering service, and your ticket price recommendation. Present this report to Student Government.

Sample PBATs: 
Are carnival games fair?
How can I plan a student event to maximize profit or minimize cost?