The first project of the semester is incredibly important. It sets the tone for the entire semester. If a student completes it successfully, they will do well for the rest of the semester. A good solution instills a great deal of confidence in a student.
This semester, I decided it was time for a new first project. In earlier semesters, I have used the Medical Insurance project or the Gas Prices project as the first project. Each of these projects covers linear equations in some form. However, I wanted a more basic project to start the semester. Something I can use to apply linear equations and teach Excel.
The College Costs 2 project accomplishes these goals. In this project, each student is assigned average college cost data from a state. Students are either assigned data for the average cost of four-year public and two-year institutions or four-year private and two-year institutions. Using the data, students construct a linear model of the data and use it to calculate how much is saved by attending the two-year college during a four-year college career.
To do this, student complete several technology assignments. In Make a Scatter Plot of College Costs, they use Excel to make appropriate scatter pllots of the data. They learn how to select columns and format the graphs they create. Once they have created the scatter plots, they complete the technology assignment Find a Linear Function for College Costs to find the line that passes through to of the data points in the scatter plot. Finally, they put their graphs and functions into a Word document in the technology assignment Paste Equations and Graphs. These technology assignments are located on the College Costs 2 project page.
These technology assignments put them in a position to use the functions to determine the costs savings of spending two years at a community college and then another two years at a four-year college compared to four years at a four-year college. How you get the documentation for the rest of the solution is up to you. I have them write a technical memo for the project. However, you could have them complete a much shorter assignment to assess the solution. This part is up to you. The number of students in your class, the amount of time you have to grade, and the overall importance of projects and real world problems all influence how you assess the solution.