I have asked teachers I know who are teaching financial concepts in their classrooms, many of whom have participated in a Math Forum workshops of professional development courses, to contribute their stories to this blog, this is the second of what I hope will be many to come, courtesy of Stacey, about an activity that was used with 8th graders.

Middle school students seem so ready to grow up.  One of their biggest anticipations is the moment when they will be handed their license and given the opportunity to drive.  What they don’t realize is that with a driver’s license comes the cost of driving a car.  That’s why I created an activity to show my students just how much gasoline prices have changed, and what that could mean for their wallets in the future.

Click on the image below to download a PDF version of the entire activity

Click to download activity

Students were asked to create box-and-whisker plots on a TI-83 graphing calculator.  Once they had the graphical display of the data, they were asked to analyze the results.  They were asked to find in which decade the gasoline prices were highest and lowest, as well as most stable.  They were also asked to find the decade that had the highest average price per gallon of gasoline.  As an extension, students researched that decade to find what was happening to cause such high prices.  They were really surprised by what they found!

Students gained a new appreciation for all of the talk in the news lately about gas prices and when they are expected to rise, and when they are expected to fall.  They also began to realize that, once they drive, they are going to have to plan appropriately for the cost of that privilege.