Estimation Challenge

Image by:  Akeeris

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on ways to utilize technology to improve student learning.  Understanding what objectives are being assessed helps me plan on what technology will be used and in what capacity it will be used.  One of the second units in my class emphasizes the importance of estimation.  The fifth grade Chicago Everyday Math curriculum asks the students to do the following:

Notice that the question says “location given by your teacher”.  Instead of giving all the students a specific destination, I decided to have the students pick an establishment (Culvers, Kohls, local park, school, etc.) in the town that they reside.   In the past, I’ve found that student choice can be a motivator for students. The destination had to be within 15 miles of the school.  The students were grouped in triads and were given a computer to complete this task.  Students were asked the following:

  • What is your destination?
  • About how many miles is it from your school to your destination?
  • About how many steps will it take to reach your destination? (they used the conversion in the journal above)
  • How long would it take you to reach your destination?
  • What breaks would you take during your walk to your destination?
  • If you left at 8:00 AM on Monday, when would you arrive at your destination?

The students were also given the Google Maps website to start their estimation challenge.  Most students were able to navigate Google Maps and find the “get directions” tab and enter in the school address.  The groups were able to find the establishment address fairly quickly, although some groups needed prompting.  The student groups needed to find out what route to take to their destination.  Some routes were quicker than others, but involved a lot of stopping at cross walks.  Other routes were scenic, but took longer.  Each group decided which route to take and found the Google Maps distance to the destination.  Here is a sample of what the students were looking at:

Some of the groups extracted the “Google Maps time” to answer the questions. Other groups thought that it seemed odd that it would take a specific amount of time for everyone to reach the destination at the same time.  One of my students remarked that not all people will take 2 hours and 56 minutes to reach the destination. I thought this was a prime opportunity to bring in the topic of ratios and proportions. One of the groups decided to time themselves walking 10 feet and then find out how long it would take to walk an entire mile at that pace.  I was impressed with the groups that went beyond the artificial time given by Google Maps.  Even more, the topic of ratios and proportions is typically introduced next school year.

Near the end of the project, the students presented their answers to the class.  Each group chose a different location and I could tell that their answers were well thought out.  Overall, the skills utilized in this project are applicable outside of the classroom and I feel that the students were fully engaged and met the objectives for the lesson. This is one of the projects that I’m planning on using next year.  This is my second Google Maps activity, my first lesson can be found here.

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