Visual Mathematics in the City

Hello Students! Today we will be using our math skills to determine various facts and information that will be particularly useful on our next quest… an exploration of Portland!!! After we have finished packing we will pair up with our classmates to embark on our journey and don’t forget your calculators and some scratch paper!


  1. Students will group with their exploration buddies and get access to the Google Maps here. Once access is made, students will make a copy of this map to their own Drive, as edits are required.
  2. Students will be required to answer a variety questions regarding their specific path through the city that are visible below.


This will help our students mesh their mathematical skills with a city that they are familiar with. By creating this exercise for students to “travel” throughout a familiar city while applying mathematical knowledge they have accumulated is crucial for students because of several reasons:

-Students will be able to draw personal connection from the beginning, which will only be strengthened the more mathematical knowledge they apply and gain from the city

-Students will be able to apply their math toolbox to real world scenarios that are relevant in their lives

-Students will be able to show creativity and make this project their own through individual knowledge of the city, furthered by our math understanding

Student Questions and Guide:

  1. Our starting point is… the Convention Center! We need to do our part and get tested for COVID-19 before we venture into the rest of the city. Once done there, one of our group members has the hankering for some food. Decide as a group which of our food options available is most interesting, and calculate how long it would take to get there by driving, and on foot using Google Maps.
  2. We have arrived at our food destination! Make a decision with your group as to what sounds tasty, and calculate how much you owe said eatery before and after a 20% tip.
  3. As you finish up your meal the sun starts to peek out from behind the clouds. You and your group mates agree that it would be a great time to visit a park, or a wooded area. The only requirement is that you must cross at least one bridge to get to your next destination. Once you have picked this destination, calculate how many miles away it is from where you are. If you want to get there in 15 minutes, what average MPH must you travel at? 10 minutes? 20 minutes?
  4. You have been thoroughly enjoying your outside adventure when it starts to rain! Because people are starting to get hungry again. You and your group gather up and decide where to eat. Calculate the milage from this destination to your chosen eatery.
  5. Once at the eatery, you and your friends are required to a total of 5 items off the menu. Calculate how much you owe this restaurant after a 25% tip. Enjoy your meal!
  6. After our food has been gobbled down, we have to decide what the nights entertainment will be. Portland is running a unique night life program where it costs $20 to get into any event happening in the city, per person. Once you have chosen from our list if entertainment on the map, calculate the milage between your previous food stop, and chosen nightlife destination.
  7. Once your show/game has finished you are all done! Be sure to answer the reflection questions below.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What was the total milage driven throughout the day? If gas was $3.00 a gallon, and you averaged 20 miles to the gallon, how much would each group member owe in gas money?
  2. What was your favorite stop, and why?
  3. How much money did you owe in food expenses, before and after tip?
  4. How much do you tip on average when you go out to eat, and why?
  5. Overall how much money was spent in the day, including gas and tips? How much does each of your group members owe?

Image Credit:

Photo by on Unsplash

2 Replies to “Visual Mathematics in the City”

  1. Great idea for using MyMaps to bring real world decisions to developing math skills. Enjoyed the casual style in both the post and the info about the stops. And quite an interesting collection of Portland landmarks – great use of icons on the map (masked guy for Airgas Store!)

    If you ever decide to use this lesson I think some sort of tally sheet would be a welcome feature. Lots of steps to keep track of – students would benefit for organized space for record keeping and computation. Might even be a chance to work in a Google Form or Drawing?

  2. I think I would I use this lesson as a college student! I love how you included familiar Portland sites and integrated it into a full blown math lesson with GoogleMaps!

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