## Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Though my profession is teaching mathematics, in the summers, when I'm only teaching part-time at my college, I run a lawn mowing business. Like any business I must calculate my profit by subtracting my costs from my revenue. I think this type of analysis would make a good class project. The goal is simply to getting them thinking about how many variables can go into an equation, though depending on the time you put into the project you could make it a competition or a game or simply a problem. Again, my goal would be to get kids talking in the language of algebra

Ask your students to list all the possible costs that could be incurred in a lawn mowing business and write them on the overhead.

Next, give each student a budget (say \$1,000) that they must buy a mower and/or market their business. Next, build an equation to calculate the revenue (R) and costs (C)

P = R - C

C = Fuel, mower, marketing (flyers, adds in the paper, etc)
R = pay per lawn

You could make your profit equation as detailed as you would like, listing as many costs and types of revenue as you would like. You could have kids make flyers for their business, listing the equation on the flyer. Some students may take such knowledge and start their own lawn service. Nevertheless, it's a good introduction to the language and applicability of algebra