A common refrain for students in a math class is “when are we ever gonna need this?” Real World Math is a site that tries to put math skills into real-world situations to help them feel more useful to the students. Their tool of choice? Google Earth!
Thomas Petra created the site, aimed at 5th-10th grade students, to show them why math matters in the real world. Katrina Schwartz at Mind/Shift recently wrote a great article about Real World Math, explaining why it can be such a useful tool.
Petra takes an inquiry learning approach to the Google Earth-based problems. “I want them to use the things they know already and I want them to learn new skills like critical thinking and problem solving on their own terms,” Petra said of his approach. To do that, Petra has developed more than 30 elaborate souped-up word problems based on downloadable Google Earth maps with additional information embedded at different points.
While much of the Real World Math site is password-protected, I encourage you to check it out to see what they have to offer. You can also read the full article on Mind/Shift to learn more about them.