Monday, September 16, 2013

Disney Project - one of my favorites

Last year at this time, I created a Disney project for my Accelerated Algebra 1 9th grade classes.  It went better than I anticipated. My school has laptops, so they had those to do the research on.  I kept it simple and told them they would have a week to plan Disney.  Their final product is a power point shared with me.  They needed to have at least one math equation, graph, and table in their product.

That's about all I gave them.  (Check back later, I will attach the actual project but I left my school computer at school.)  Update: Here is the Disney Project

Then, we got into groups - they chose them because they would be working with these people.

Next, we brainstormed.  They had to ask me questions about planning the trip.  What did they need to know to plan it?

How will we get there?  I have five groups, so I did five different scenarios.  We live in MA.  One group is flying from Logan.  One group is flying from Providence, RI.  One group will drive the family car.  One group will rent a car.  And, the final group will drive the family car to Maryland, stay over night for free with a family friend and then fly from Maryland to Florida.  There were ooohs and ahhs, and laughs.

Where will we stay?  You have to stay in the park.

When are we going?  You are going Saturday, Nov 2nd - Sat, Nov 9th of this year.

Who is going?  A family of four, 2 adults, one 14 year old child, and one 8 year old child.

Then, they were stuck.  I let them think.  They finally came up with money - how much money do we get?  I gave them $8,000.  They liked it, thought it was good.

Then, we brainstormed what they would need to spend their money on and they did pretty good.  They even thought of parking at the airport.

They quickly got to work and the room was abuzz.

Some groups broke up the work - you do the travel, you do the food, you do the park tickets.  Some started with the travel and all researched different airlines or car rentals.  Some brainstormed in google docs, some on paper.  I loved it.

But, it was the conversations that were priceless:

Conversations heard while planning a trip to Disney: (directed to each other, not me)
"How many nights are we in the park?"
"Can we get a Prius?"  Heard in both classes.
"I did miles/hr.  What else do I need to do?"  
While looking a McDonald's menu, "I am going to save money."
"Can we use my dad's flight points?"
"Can one of the adults be a grandparent so we can get a senior discount."
"I'll get the park tickets.  You get the plane.  We will keep it on the cheap."
"Oh, the Chevy Spark gets $30 mpg."
They used google maps to see the trip.
"Let's camp." "No way, that's $54/night, way too expensive."  "No, that's the cheapest place in the park." - says the group who chose to fly first class.
"We're going to do buffet all day."
"This is so confusing.  How do adults do this?"
When they find the Disney packages and after pricing it separately - "Would it be cheaper to do the package?"
One group is dividing up the family - I'm the dad, you're the mom, etc.  They are "The Millers" and finding pictures of families on line.  "I can't find any good moms."
"How many nights can we stay in the park if we have to travel there and back?"
"Do I actually have to book the car?"  ME: NO!
"$3,000 per week for food - that's ridiculous!"
"Do we have to count the road trip back from Maryland?"  Ummm, yes!
"Can we rent a nanny?"
"When it says under 14 is that 14 year old an adult?"
"Southwest says 2 and over are adults, does that mean we have 4 adults?"

There were lots of giggles and they were really engaged.
Love it!  I only give them a week to do it because some of them would go way overboard.  I assign it now so I can have some nice projects for parent night next Thursday :)

I will try to remember to attach it tomorrow. 


  1. Cool project, Jennifer. I love listening to my students as they problem solve. Do you assign each group a travel scenario or do you let them choose how to get to Disney?

  2. This sounds like a lot of fun. Do they work on this all week in class? I love reading the conversations of students. Makes me think I need to write down some conversations I hear, as I want to remember some of those passionate math conversations.

  3. I love this idea. I passed it along to a few of the teachers at my school. I hope that they use it!

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