Billboards and Commercials in Math

Our kids just recently did a project where we were learning the order of operations.  We connected it to commercials or billboards.  Here's how it worked.  First the kids created two order of operation problems.  They had to have 5 out of the 7 steps involved.  The problems also had to have a negative number and a fraction.  After they made their second problem correct they were to go back and make the problem wrong by doing the steps in the wrong order.  I know this sounds crazy, but it actually really helps them to understand the steps.  Plus it ties into a part of the project that comes into play at the end.

Our entry event was to watch some funny commercials and some funny billboards to get them interested.  Their goal was to create a funny or clever commercial that had words that went in the same order as the order of operations.  For example:

Parentheses = Pancakes
Brackets = Bacon
Exponents = Eggs
Multiply = Milk
Divide = Doughnuts
Add = Asparagus
Subtract = Snake

I tell them a crazy story about a neighbor that has to eat their breakfast in a certain order as an example. It was fun to see how clever they were with their commercials and billboards.  They presented them to the class.  Half the kids probably made commercials using Imovie and Garageband.  The other kids used, smore, or to create billboards.

Finally on the last day they rotated to every other groups computers and used the other groups problems. They had two objectives.  First they had to figure out which of the two problems was right or wrong by looking at the steps of the problem.  Finally after they found the wrong problem, they had to solve it with the steps and get the correct answer.

Most kids can recite Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally, but they really are not good at applying the steps to a problem.  The thing I love about having the kids make up problems is that they are always harder than the problems form our 7th grade book.  The kids had a lot of fun trying to make the other kids laugh with their commercial or billboard.  They also love keeping track of who gets their problems wrong.  They take a lot of pride in stumping their classmates.


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