Our goal was to engage the students in a meaningful application of mathematics. We chose a project format requiring a significant amount of sustained work, hoping that the excitement and enthusiasm generated would carry over into the mathematics itself. We tried to make the project fun for the students, but at the same time we were careful about our work and how we presented ourselves to the rest of the school community. The students walked away from this unit feeling good about themselves and what they had done.
The next time we undertake such a project, we will have the students keep a portfolio. This will help us document our work, and allow us to refer back to earlier results. With a portfolio, for example, it would be easy to compare our initial estimates to the actual measurements, something we want to be more careful about next time.
We spent more time on the project than we had originally planned, mainly because it kept pulling us in different directions requiring certain math skills we hadn't anticipated in advance. In any event, it was time well spent, and we hope to do it again.
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