Back to school activities

Who's going back to school? - Students calculate the historical changes in U.S. population percentages of people who are going back to school and try to formulate reasons for these variations. 6.EE, 6.RP.3, 6.SP, 7.EE, 7.RP.3, 7.SP

Does it pay to get educated? - Students compare the earning power for people who have invested time, effort, and often money in order to strengthen their education and learning. 4.OA.2, 5.NBT.5, 6.RP.3, 6.NS.3, 6.SP.3 6.SP.4, 6.SP.5, 7.SP.4, MP1, MP3

How much does it cost to send you back to school? - Students work together to create a back-to-school needs list; confer and research to estimate the cost of these items; tally and compare the whole class's estimations. The final question concerns the amount of time needed to work to earn enough for these costs. 4.OA.3, 4.NBT.3, 6.SP.3, 6.SP.5, 7.EE.3, MP5, HSF, HSA

Haiti’s earthquake and the Richter scale

New activity!

On August 14th, Haiti was hit with a powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

What does a 7.2 magnitude earthquake imply? What's a seismometer.  What is the amplitude of a seismograph and what does it mean?

Use our Richter scale activity to introduce your students to logarithmic Richter magnitudes.  Discuss linear versus exponential growth.  You might also use our graph of Richter magnitudes at


That’s a big tomato!

 Clicking on this image will show it larger in a new window.

Clicking on this image will show it larger in a new window.


These Aussi tomatoes (the tomato on the left of all of the tomatoes) are huge.  How much do you guess one weighs? Can you figure it out?

Let’s learn to gerrymander

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This cartoon was popular in 1812 when the Massachusetts governor, Elbridge Gerry, signed into law a redistricting plan designed to keep his party in control during the next election. The districts were so strangely delineated that people thought that the map looked like a salamander ... but this one was a Gerry-mander.

In this activity student first try to redistrict our pretend state in order to preserve the overall state's balance in its new districting plan.  Then, students redistrict our pretend state in a way that insures that the minority party will win the state's votes.

How many athletes brought home no medal?

There must be a lot of Olympians who haven't brought home medals.  Probably most of the athletes that went to Tokyo didn't win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal.  We couldn't find any numbers about these people.  Can you figure it out from what we could find?

In this activity students try to calculate data that hasn't been publshed by combining and sorting through information that is available in order to to draw a new conclusion.

Which data is important and which is not?

How many athletes have come home from the 2020/21 Summer Olympics empty-handed?

How much will it cost this year to go back to school?

Back to school spending is huge and students might not appreciate what it costs to send them back to, essentially, their job of learning.  In this activity students decide what equipment and supplies are necessary, estimate how much that will all cost, confer with classmates to refine their lists, and then research to find out more accurately how much it will probably cost to send them back to school.  This activity could be used for students in upper elementary school all the way to high school.  It offers an opportunity for kids to estimate, research, reason, calculate and communicate with each other.