Sometimes math class can seem like a jumble of numbers and disconnected facts. But math can actually help you figure out how the world works -- from how much money you can make in the stock market to where you should stand to shoot a basket. Try out a real life math project that matches your interest and watch the world of math come alive.

## Basketball Geometry

This math project can help you determine how your angle from the backboard affects whether you are able to sink a basket. Make some predictions before you begin, and then systematically take 10 shots from each of several locations at varying angles to the backboard. Set up a bar graph to display your data, and see if you can come up with a mathematical expression to predict the likelihood that you will score a basket.

## Why Invest?

Taking a chance with your hard-earned money can be scary, so why would anyone invest in the stock market? You can do a math project to understand the benefit of investing. Imagine that you'd invested $100 in a given mutual fund 10 years ago, and estimate how much that money would be worth today. Then imagine that you'd put that same $100 dollars in other savings vehicles, such as a checking account, savings account or CD. Compare your earnings, and describe which you think would be the best use of your money.

## Living on Minimum Wage

Could you live on minimum wage? Over the course of a week, make a list of the items that you buy or that someone buys for you, including food (estimating quantities), clothing and entertainment. Multiply this by four to get how much these expenses cost each month. Then pretend you are living on your own, and factor in how much rent a one-bedroom apartment costs in your area, what an average electricity and water bill adds up to, how much individual medical insurance and car insurance cost each month, and how much it costs to fill up a tank of gas once a week. Calculate how much all of these expenses would add up to, and figure out how many hours a week you would need to work on minimum wage in order to cover these expenses. Would it be possible?

## Environmental Math

Your mom always tells you to turn off the lights when you leave the room, but you're not sure what the big deal is anyway. How much electricity are you using up? You can figure it out by looking at the wattage of each light bulb in your house and estimating how long they are each on throughout the day. Multiply the wattage by the hours the lights stay on to get the total number of watt-hours, and then divide by 1,000 to get the number of kilowatt hours. Then find out how much your electric company charges per kilowatt hour, and you'll be able to calculate how much it costs you to use the lights in your home.