Would You Rather Listen to the Lesson?
Finding a subject interesting and enjoyable has long been pointed out by studies as extremely important for students’ learning, as well as their academic performance, and mathematics is no exception to this.
Yet sometimes, math teachers or educators can feel overwhelmed and unsure where to start when it comes to creating a more fun and engaging climate for their students, especially in high school where students are slowly approaching adulthood.
To help out, we’ve created a list of five awesome math activities for high school that you can easily use in any math classroom setting. Read on to learn more.
5 Engaging Math Activities For High School
1. Adding Binomials Snake Game
Create a game based on a narrative to get your students practicing adding two or more binomials. You’ll need to print out boarding passes, worksheets with math problems for each student, as well as the answer keys to all worksheets (these are for yourself).
Start by creating the worksheets. Create several sets of worksheets for each group. The worksheets for each student in a group should be the same, but they should be different from other groups.
Each worksheet should contain 6 binomial addition problems, including easier ones, such as adding two, three binomials with a single variable, as well as more difficult ones, like adding three binomials with multiple variables.
Draw airplane seats on the worksheets and write one binomial problem per plane seat (1A gets one problem, 1B a second problem, 2A a third one, and so on).
Include a short narrative at the beginning of each worksheet:
“You’re a passenger on a plane and your plane is infested with snakes. The snakes are hiding under some of the seats in the plane, but it’s not known where exactly. In order to find out if there’s a snake under your seat, you’ll have to add the math binomials written on your seat. Remember, the snakes are only hiding under the seats for which the answer is 0.”
Then, make sure to include at least one math problem in each worksheet for which the answer is zero such as: (-2p5 – 5p2) + (5p2 + 2p5).
Now, divide students into groups of 6 and place the boarding passes in the middle, facing downwards. Students should draw a boarding pass so that they know which seat they’re sitting on and find out which math challenge to focus on.
The first group that finds out which seats have a binomial problem for which the answers are zero and thus discovers where the snakes are wins first place. However, to win the game, students must solve the math problems on all seats so that they are sure there aren’t snakes under the other seats.
2. Polynomial Puzzler Clouds
This is one of those math activities for high school that are great for reinforcing children’s knowledge about multiplying monomials and binomials, as well as factoring trinomials. To create the puzzlers, simply use construction paper and cut it in the form of small clouds.
Divide the students into groups of 4 and place polynomial puzzler clouds in the middle of each group. Arrange the clouds on the table so that there are three clouds in each row and three clouds in each column.
On each puzzler cloud, write one term so that by multiplying two terms that are next to each other (from left to right and from top to down), you’ll get the correct product in the third puzzler cloud in the column on the right and the bottom row. This is why the order of puzzler clouds should stay intact. For example,
(puzzler cloud 1) -5 (puzzler cloud 2) -2x + 3 (puzzler cloud 3) 10x + 15
In other words, – 5 multiplied by (-2x + 3) equals 10x +15.
Now, leave one or more puzzler clouds empty in each row and ask children to find the correct answer by multiplying and factoring polynomials. For instance, if children see that in puzzler cloud 1 they have the term 3x – 2 and in puzzler cloud 3 they have the product 12x – 8, they are supposed to divide the two polynomials to get the correct answer. That is, (12x – 8) ÷ (3x – 2)=4.
As there are some rows with two empty puzzler clouds, students will have to solve the math problems one by one to be able to get the solutions for all puzzlers. The first group that manages to fill in all puzzler clouds wins the game.
3. Radical Equation Hot Potato
Explain to students that this activity is similar to the traditional hot potato game, with a minor modification of adding a radical equation challenge. To do this activity, you’ll designate an object that will serve as a ‘hot potato’. This could be a small object, such as a small beanbag or even a real potato.
Create several cards with radical equation challenges to be solved by students, such as:
√(2x−5) − √(x−1) = 1 or √(2x+9) − 5 = 0.
Now ask students to sit in a circle and start handing the hot potato. You can choose the student that you want to start with, give them the hot potato, and ask them to pick a card from the pile of cards. Just make sure the cards are facing downwards.
Once they get a radical equation to solve, they hand the hot potato to the person next to them, and they try to solve the radical equation before the hot potato has been passed around by everyone in the circle and comes back to them.
If they don’t have the correct answer by then, they lose one point. If they have the correct answer, they win one point.
Decide in advance for how many rounds you want to go. After that number of rounds has passed, you look into the points of each student and declare a winner.
4. Sine Triangle Race
After you’ve introduced the law of sine (i.e. the relationship between the sides and angles of oblique triangles) to students, you can use this fun game to reinforce their sine knowledge. The only thing you’ll need is construction paper, markers, and some scissors. You may want to use construction paper in different colors so that you make the activity more interesting.
Now draw small oblique triangles on the construction paper and cut them out. Write different numerical values on them, where either two sides and one angle opposite of them or two angles and one side of the triangle are known.
Students are supposed to find the remaining side(s)/angle(s) by using the law of sines.
Divide students into pairs of two and place a set of triangles in front of them. The triangles should be facing downwards. Each student picks a triangle and they start calculating. After they find the answer, they put this triangle in their pile and take the next triangle. Students should not pick which triangle to take, but rather always take the one that’s on top.
Give each group 20 minutes or so (depending on the number of triangle challenges you’ve created). After 20 minutes have passed, each student counts the number of triangle challenges they’ve solved in total. The one with the biggest number wins the game.
5. Complex Numbers Ball Game
The last activity on our engaging math activities for high school list will help you create an engaging atmosphere to practice adding complex numbers. You can use it for a bigger group in class, but it can easily be adjusted as a one-on-one activity if you’re a homeschooling parent.
Get a huge ball and cover it with a variety of complex numbers that can be added. Make sure to include brackets to make it easier on the eyes. For example:
(3 + 5i) + (4 – 3i) or (3 + 2i) + (1+7i)
Now arrange students in a circle and start passing the ball to random players! When the ball has been handed to someone, they need to check which complex numbers their index fingers are touching and add them. Afterward, they pass the ball to another random student.
As students have to do mental math to add the complex numbers, avoid writing overly complicated equations. There are no winners or losers in the game, but you can adjust it if you want to make it more competitive. Keep passing the ball until students get tired.
This article described five engaging math activities for high school, that will hopefully make your math lessons more fun and facilitate your work as an educator.
Have fun in the classroom and see your students’ knowledge soar!