Volume 26, No. 1: Steady Progress in CP Systems

The #1 Failed Math Class in America and What Educators Can Do

Scott Burke, Geometry in Construction, Algebra 1 in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship, and Design (AMPED), Loveland High School, Fort Collins, Colorado

If your students struggle with algebra, you are not alone. Algebra is the #1 failed math class in the United States. As full-time math and CTE teachers, my colleagues and I were tired of watching students struggle through the same old math instruction, so we decided to take matters into our own hands. At Loveland High School we developed AMPED, Algebra 1 in Manufacturing Processes, Entrepreneurship and Design (www.ampedalgebra.com), a rigorous algebra 1 course taught through relevant project-based applications and curriculum.

AMPED students develop entrepreneurial skills by managing all facets of a business that produces and sells t-shirts and manufactures other products for the community. This business venture includes designing, marketing, selling, producing, and distributing t-shirts to corporate, non-profit, and educational entities. Since its launch in the fall 2015 semester, the AMPED program has produced over 16,000 shirts. In addition to t-shirts, AMPED students design and manufacture board games, skate boards, banners, and phone covers. Since algebra concepts are infused throughout every project, AMPED teachers never hear the age-old math classroom question: "When am I ever going to need to know this?"

One example of an AMPED activity contextualizes manufacturing processes and business standards with common core level algebra 1 by teaching students about quadratics and the law of diminishing returns. The activity is called Nutterflutters. The goal of Nutterflutters is for students to simulate a factory that has the ability to add workers but cannot add capital resources. Students create a product called "Nutterflutters" in the class. Nutterflutters are a cookie sandwich made of graham crackers, peanut butter, and marshmallow cream. The production process is analyzed mathematically as students increase production with the addition of workers. This lab has proven to be extremely fun and powerful for all classes. Here is a link to get the entire lesson plan for this lab: http://www.contextuallc.com/downloads/

Teachers and students are amped about AMPED. Enthusiasm and attendance rates have all increased while discipline issues are at an all-time low. Students learn how to use and apply algebraic concepts while running a business and creating artifacts they can use every day. If you are an educator looking to redesign the most failed math class in America, we invite you to learn more about how to incorporate AMPED activities in your classroom!

For a complete sample unit from AMPED, visit our website at www.contextuallc.com.

For more information, contact the author at scott.burke@thompsonschools.org.