Let’s face it. Sometimes students look at you while your teaching and you can read their minds.

**“Why in the world are we doing this?”**

And in their defense…when they are filling out worksheets or pages of a math workbook, it’s easy to lose the “real world” in the math and focus instead on the answers in the boxes. Whenever humanly possible, I try to make math meaningful to my students…whether it be by inserting their names into word problems, using math to solve problems around the class, or showcasing cool “math stuff” I come across in my own life. Today I wanted to share a super cool math experience I had with my students and see if it inspires you!

So this week it was my birthday. I am NOT a fan of my birthday–although I had fun last year with my students because my age had so many factors….1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12, 18, 24, and 48. This year? Nothing mathematically “cool” so I decided to make them WORK for their cake

### Mathematicians Ask Questions

**“A farmer has 3 chickens, 6 cows, and 4 horses….”**

So with a slightly big production, I wheeled a birthday cake into the classroom. As you can imagine, shrieks of delight filled the room followed by, **“Can we eat it?” **My students are a chip off the old block, that’s for sure!

I explained to the students that we could, indeed, eat it–once we had answered some math questions about it first. I thought there might be groans, but I got an overwhelming feeling of “Game on!” from the class. I started by asking them to brainstorm what questions they thought I would ask about the cake. (Then I clarified that I meant what MATH questions!) and the list began.

### Real World, Hands-On Problem Solving

### Working on the Standards for Mathematical Practice

As they solved each challenge and could show me their thinking and defend their solution, I sent them to collect the card from the next envelope. All groups made it through task 2–and several groups did more. So what did that mean?

### The Eye on the Prize!

**DIGITAL ACCESS**for maximum flexibility. Want to read more?

**CLICK HERE**to see a blog post with more implementation ideas.

Finally, these 7 project-based learning experiences are far more in depth, are differentiated, and get students really engaged in the problem-solving process. The idea of asking math questions is a part of this resource and there is a huge list of real-world extension ideas included with each one. See what you think–and now they all include** DIGITAL ACCESS** as well!