Project Based Learning - Virtual Trip
Another project I did with my middle school students (which can be adapted to any age) is a virtual trip across the United States. I have included the instruction sheet and will send the zip file with all the class forms. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virtual Trip Instructions
1. Go to Kelly Blue Book.com and secure about 10 printed car specifications including picture and mpg. MPG needs to be 28 or above. Students will choose one car for their virtual trip. It is very important that they choose a car which gets good gas mileage, i.e. so they won’t spend all their money on gas. Display these in one area of the classroom.
2. Each day display the price of gas per gallon. (As you travel to school each day pick one gas station to record the price of gas.)
3. Record a ‘virtual trip information’ sheet in reference to your city. The one I have included starts in Tampa, FL and goes to the Florida state capital then continues up the east coast. This sheet is for my reference and grading purposes.
A. You can give the mileage from city to city or you can have the students figure it out using a mileage map.
B. There are different ways to find the sales tax for each state. The internet has charts listed by state or you can provide it for the students in chart form.
C. I figured out, for easy grading, how many gallons of gas would be needed and what the cost would be for travel from Tampa to Tallahassee, from Tallahassee to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Columbia, etc. for each mpg of the cars I displayed. If you will take this spreadsheet and only fill in city, miles from, sales tax and gas cost columns with your information the other columns have formulas to automatically calculate. This sheet is invaluable in order to grade all the information on the ‘city fact sheet’.
4. Go to your local bank and ask for blank check registers and blank counter checks or you can use a ‘register’ template and blank checks you find online. Students need to learn how to fill out the check register and to write checks. I started with a balance of $1,000.00 for each student. Student need to learn how to: write numbers in words, write numbers in the order necessary for a check, completely fill out a check and transfer the information to a check register.
5. Students will fill out a ‘city fact sheet’ for each city they travel to calculating sales tax for hotel and all meals. (gas and entertainment usually include tax in the price)
6. Students will research the internet for a hotel in their destination city preferably with a continental breakfast so they do not have to spend money for this meal. Explain that hotel websites must state continental breakfast. I had students print this page with hotel name, location and the amenity of continental breakfast. Then this total amount must have a check written and check register entry included.
7. Secure from restaurant websites their menus(3 fast food restaurants and 3 ‘sit down’ restaurants) to be displayed in class so students can choose their lunch and dinner items. Lunch and dinner items must be listed separately, subtotaled, sales tax added and a total calculated then subtracted from their checking account. Students need to include a drink with meals. Students may eat at a fast food restaurant once a day and the other meal at a ‘sit down’ restaurant. Students do not know that when you go into a restaurant the bill includes sales tax so there is a subtotal which the sales tax is calculated from the subtotal to get the final total.
8. When check registers are filled out the order of the entries must be in the order the money was spent,i.e. gas, hotel, breakfast (if money spent), lunch, entertainment, dinner. On the memo line in the register, gas was bought in Tampa to travel to Tallahassee, so the student can pick a name of any gas station to write on their check but the memo should say “gas Tampa” not gas Tallahassee since they had to by gas in Tampa in order to get to Tallahassee.
9. Entertainment needs to be appropriate – fairs, theater, amusement parks, etc. You may request that a page with the name and amount of the entertainment be printed out.
10. All pages in order of travel city will be included in a ‘3 ring or 3 brad folder’ (so pages will not fall out) for the project to be turned in for grading. I collected all projects 2 times during the duration of this project to grade and make suggestions and to see if the students are following all the directions. The order would be
1. Student info cover sheet including car selected with mpg
2. City sheet
3. Hotel sheet
4. Entertainment sheet
5. Repeat #2 - #4 for as many cities as required for a certain grade. My project lasted 4 weeks and most students were able to get to 14 cities completed during that time (which was about one city in 2 class times). Some students of course did more than the 14 cities.
11. Order of instruction for the project:
1. Writing numbers in words
2. Writing words in check form
3. Writing checks and deposits, putting them in the register and balancing