Mathalicious (follow on twitter @Mathalicious) is committed to providing engaging lessons based in real-world contexts. Mathalicious has a couple great lessons that explore mathematical ideas using a real-world financial context. What I like about these lessons are that they are a true marriage of mathematical ideas (they are all aligned to the Common Core State Standards) and genuine exploration of the financial concepts as well.

One example great example is Big Foot Conspiracy, in which students examine the pricing structure of shoes by looking at the cost of children’s vs. adult’s shoes and if it makes sense that a size 6 shoe should really cost the same as a size 11 shoe. Through this exploration students plot data, look at linear and non-linear relationship and compare unit pricing by weight. This lesson helps potential entrepreneurs think about setting prices based on the cost of materials and whether or not potential customers might respond well to various pricing schemes.

A couple others I like are: Go Big Papa in which you explore how good pizza deals really are and iCost which explores whether or not the pricing scheme of apple products is linear. Also keep an eye out for **Tip Jar** which will be back up shortly, but is being updated as we speak. In Tip Jar, students explore the mathematical concepts of proportional relationships using tables, graphs and equations, solve ratio and percent problems **and** they also explore not just how to calculate a tip, but also how tipping works in different countries in terms of the percentage of the wait-staff’s salary that is based on tips. Too often I have found that many real world based lessons stop at the tip calculation, the lessons on this site dig deeper and offer opportunities to make real connections between mathematics, financial options and financial decision making.

I got to hang out with a bunch of 6th and 7th graders in a relatively under-served neighborhood here in Philly the last few weekends. I blogged about them here http://mathforum.org/blogs/max/anyqs-with-middle-school-students/ But the thing I thought was really interesting and relevant was that I showed them a picture (courtesy of http://twitter.com/mathbratt ) of a big mug and a little mug. Only the little mug had a price. They all wanted to know, “how much does the big mug cost?” and I asked them what a fair way to set the price would be.

They had a really wide range of ideas: breakability, usability, materials, volume (how much does it hold), height, width, and just random price setting. I was fascinated how many different ideas there were and how the kids who mentioned how much does it hold seemed to be the more mathematically sophisticated, generally. It surprised me (and then I was surprised to have been surprised) that kids aren’t born knowing that volume is a fair way to set prices on different sized objects!

I think it’s a weird thing that schools sometimes tend to focus on math that isn’t practical for real life purposes, surely if a person wishes to learn this stuff he/she will go to college or university to do so, the average person does not need it.

I like this article, it shows that real world context math is being taught in schools!

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