Loaded with hands-on, visual, real world math challenges . . . This GATE math unit is designed for upper elementary and through 7th grade as a curricular extension. The unit is formatted so that it may be completed as an independent math challenge or as whole-class and small group assignments. Not just math—this unit crosses the curriculum for graphic design and drafting, historical primary sources, informative non-fiction, engineering, and economics.
Level: very challenging for 4th grade GATE, right on for 5th grade GATE, and excellent math applications for 6th and 7th grades.
Time: at least 10 hours for even the fastest students
Cost: little to none, using common classroom materials.
America’s Mountain—Pikes Peak: In this graphic design application, students draw Pikes Peak (photos included) and then determine a scale to show the proper elevations. Applications of fractions and logical-mathematical thinking are key skills in this challenge.
Elevation and Temperature: Students make a table from temperature readings at different elevations, determine temperature change to tenth place decimals, calculate mean, median, and mode, and then create an informative poster based on their data. We transform language into numbers, numbers into a table, and calculations into graphic design. Pretty cool!
Cog Railway Primary Sources and Reading Information: Students think critically about two historical primary sources—matching details to inferences. They read an excerpt about the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway targeted to Common Core Reading Information State Standards and respond with high-order thinking skills.
Cog Spinner Geometry and Design Challenge: Students follow written and graphic instructions as they design a “cog” spinner. This geometry application is both fun and challenging. Students then use the spinner to “earn” money for a ski trip to Breckenridge. Mean, median, and mode calculations are made to the hundredths decimal value.
A Day Skiing in the Colorado Mountains: Classic multi-step word problems require addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to the hundredths place value, percentage discounts, and logical-mathematical thinking. In an economics extension, students calculate compound interest for 12 months on a credit card.
Credit Card Advertisements: Another applied graphic design challenge, students apply geometry skills to create an advertisement for a credit card to demonstrate their understanding of compound interest. Hopefully, this is a valuable lesson in economics as well.