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This lesson provided by:
Author: Mark Baynes
System:Tallassee City
School:Southside Middle School
Lesson Plan ID: 23976

Comparing Fuel Economy (adapted from CMP "Comparing and Scaling" Investigation 4.1)


In this lesson students will explore rates. They will use the concept of rates to compute and compare fuel economy.
This lesson plan was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science, GEMS Project funded by the Malone Family Foundation.

Content Standard(s):
MA2013(4) 3. Solve multistep word problems posed with whole numbers and having whole-number answers using the four operations, including problems in which remainders must be interpreted. Represent these problems using equations with a letter standing for the unknown quantity. Assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies including rounding. [4-OA3]
MA2013(7) 1. Compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions, including ratios of lengths, areas, and other quantities measured in like or different units. [7-RP1]
MA2013(7) 2. Recognize and represent proportional relationships between quantities. [7-RP2]
Local/National Standards:

NCTM Number and Operations Standard Grades 6–8 Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems: - Understand and use ratios and proportions to represent quantitative relationships.

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will use rates to compute fuel economy and gas mileage.

Additional Learning Objective(s):  
Approximate Duration of the Lesson: 31 to 60 Minutes
Materials and Equipment:

You will need transparencies (attached). These can also be used as slides in a PowerPoint.

Technology Resources Needed:

You will need a overhead projector (ELMO or LCD projector, if available) and a computer with Internet access.


The students should be able to complete long division problems.

1.)Put the rates transparency on the overhead (see attachment). Read each statement to the class and ask students to interpret each of the statements. Ask students what is being compared? Are the quantities the same kinds of measures (or counts) or are they different? Tell the students that each statement on the transparency compares two different things.....Let the students identify the two things in each statement. Tell the students that these are called rates because they tell us the rate at which something happened.

2.)Now discuss with the students how a rate can be scaled up or down to find an equivalent rate. Read this problem: My brand new car gets 30 miles to the gallon in the city. How much gas will my car use if I drive it 240 miles in the city? Place methods transparency on overhead and discuss the two possible ways listed on the over head. Ask the question: Which way did you think was best? Why? Can you think of another way of finding this rate?

3.)Talk to students about their experiences with cars and travel. Ask them if they know any drivers who worry about gas mileage.

4.)Put the story of Johnny and Fred on the overhead. Read the story aloud and direct the students to the table above. Tell them the table shows where Johnny and Fred live. It also shows the route they will take to visit their mom and dad. Point out the distances between cities and how this could be very important later in who wins the competition. Pose the question: "Which car is more fuel efficient on the highway?" Have students work in pairs on the problem. If some are struggling redirect them to the question/problem in step #2. It's the same kind of problem. Remind students that you are interested in explanations and why they think their answers are correct.

5.)Have students report their answers and share their thought process while solving the problem. In any solution, students should take into account two quantities: gallons used and miles traveled. The ratio of total miles to total gallons is typically used to report fuel efficiency and commonly represented as miles per gallon. Some students may compute gallons per mile and make perfectly good sense out of these rates. Miles per gallon is more common, but gallons per mile (gpm) is fine as long as students can explain what rate they have computed and what it means.

6.)During this activity each student will be given a certain vehicle and a destination. They must research (in the computer lab) this vehicle to show what kind of fuel economy it gets. (for example: 2006 F-150 SuperCrew gets 18 miles to the gallon on the highway.) Use the Mapquest hyperlink to help find the car's mpg. Using the cars estimated miles per gallon, the student must find how many gallons of gas it will take to drive round trip to their destination. They will need to calculate how much they will spend in fuel cost with the price of gas being $3.95 per gallon. Example: A student is given a slip of paper with the statement: You have a 2008 Chevy Tahoe and you are going to visit your aunt in Seattle, Washington. How much fuel will be needed to travel there and back? If gas is $3.95 per gallon, what will be the cost of fuel for your trip?
(Fuel Economy)

7.)After students complete their assignment, they will make class presentations to share their results. Allow small group discussions using the following questions: How does the rising fuel cost affect our economy? What do you think about fuel shortages? Identify any changes in your lifestyle that have occurred due to the rise in fuel cost.

Attachments:**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download. FuelEconomyProblem.rtf
Assessment Strategies:

Teacher observation and test (see attached.)


If a student has mastered the primary learning objective of this lesson they can research the concept of unit rates and how they are useful in real life situations. This research could be published in their math journals or on a sheet of paper to be turned in.


Students who need remediation in this area can access the following website. What is Your Rate?

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior

Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.
Variations Submitted by ALEX Users:
Alabama Virtual Library
Alabama Virtual Library

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The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The Malone Family Foundation
The Malone Family Foundation
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