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A math project almost always begins with something I happened to see on the internet.

In this case, the idea began with a love for IKEA‘s little furniture catalogs. It has evolved over time to fit different needs.

The Basics

Students are responsible for furnishing a hotel consisting of suites and standard rooms.

I give some requirements for each room (sofa, bed, coffee table, etc) and an hand over an IKEA catalog, along with some printed prices from Best Buy, Target, or other stores as needed.

Students then go on a shopping spree to furnish their hotel.

The Math

This began as a decimal operation project. Later I needed to work on percents, and realized that there tons of applications for percents as well in the hotel-furnishing world.

Students have $100,000 in cash, and can borrow unlimited funds at a 15% interest rate. We also work California sales tax in.

Students also calculate the percent of their funds that went to various categories (tables, beds, etc). This turns into a graph.

Students decided on rates for their rooms and suites (I’d recommend showing them some sample prices online). Using these, we calculated “break-even” points for the hotel using occupancy rates of 100%, 75%, and 66%.

The Product

You can take this idea in several directions:

  • Kinesthetic kids can build physical models of rooms.
  • Artists can create architectural renderings.
  • Mathematical students can design accurate floor-plans.
  • The tech-savvy can use Google’s Sketchup, building rooms in 3D.
  • Entreuprenurial students can write a business plan and create materials to advertise their rooms.

Think about your students’ various talents and connect the final product with their passions.

Naturally, conclude with a walk around. I like to finish with various awards voted on by students (most artistic, most luxurious, best minimalist, etc)

How To Use

This project is a tool to help differentiate in math, and works two ways:

  1. If you’re introducing new material, some students may already demonstrate mastery on a pre-test. They can work on a project like this while you instruct the class.

  2. On the other hand, you might have some students who need your help while everyone else is ready to move on. Let the class work on this, while you pull students as necessary.

Hidden Bonus

The hidden bonus is the practical knowledge that you will expose students to.

They are confused by bed frames and mattress sizes, they don’t know whether to use the sale or retail price of an item, they find tax on each item rather than adding them up and then multiplying.

Perhaps take five minutes to show students local hotels of note or introduce the most famous hotels.

For students who are experts at acing tests, it’s wonderful to fill in these interesting gaps of knowledge.

The materials for the hotel project can be accessed below.

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