Introduce the Project and Generate Interest

1. Introduce the challenge. One real-world task is the ability to explain what you know to others. The challenge in this project is for older students to find common examples of right-angle geometry and use their geometric knowledge to create a lesson that explains Pythagorean principles to younger students in a way that is engaging, understandable, meaningful, and relevant.

2. Describe the scenario and the task. Clarify, if necessary

Students will create a five minute lesson on the Pythagorean theorem suitable for elementary audience. The lesson may be digital, such a web page or a video, or it may be a song, skit, or game if technology is not available. The lesson must include key facts about right triangles, the Pythagorean theorem and its proof, and at least one real world application. Students can choose their own examples or choose from a list:

  1. Building a wheel chair ramp for a family member
  2. Fitting a flat screen TV into an existing entertainment center
  3. Adding an additional room and roof onto a building
  4. Manufacturing a tent
  5. Showing Pythagorean examples from existing school buildings. 

Students must also be able to answer the Driving Question by demonstrating that their presentation or performance led to engagement and understanding by the audience.

Students can choose their audience, ranging from lower elementary to middle school students.

The challenge in this project is for older students to use common examples of right-angle geometry and Pythagorean theorems to demonstrate Pythagorean principles to younger students in a way that is engaging, understandable, meaningful, and relevant. 

For digital presentations, students work in pairs or small teams. For performances, teams may be slightly larger.

3. Frame the task with the Driving Question. How can we present the Pythagorean theorem to an audience of younger students in a way we know is understandable, relevant, and meaningful?  

4. Describe the concepts that students will learn as they complete the project. Introduce the Pythagorean theorem and its applications and proofs.

5. Show real life examples of where Pythagorean theorem can be found.

6. If using Curriki Geometry for your students, invite them to the site.

7. Have your students review the student materials available to them. You may also choose to download and print some of the resources for distribution as a student packet. 

8. Anchor rubrics. Students should understand project grading and rubric language.

If your or students would like to change or refine the Driving Question, use this Protocol for Refining the Driving Question.

It’s critical to a good start that students understand they will be assessed on (1) geometry content; (2) mathematical practices; (3) teamwork; (4) presentations and designs.

If your students have no or little experience with PBL, you may have to begin the first day by explaining the process. They can also watch the video Project Based Learning: Explained (approximately 4 minutes) or a video on PBL and mathematics (approximately 30 minutes).


Tips and Tools

Generate interest in the project by using an Entry Event. Examples:

  • Have students watch this Khan Academy video on the Pythagorean Theorem (10 minutes) or view this Prezi on the Pythagorean theorem.

  • Share the initial brainstorm on the Driving Question using Gallery Walks (link takes you to an explanation of a Gallery Walk) or Padlet (a site where you can add anything to your blank “wall”).
  • Have students watch the video: What’s the point of geometry? This is a clever video on the importance of geometry. (3 minutes)

  • Have students individually or in teams spend 20 minutes finding online resources for Pythagorean theorem, then discuss and generate questions or share observations.

Use Cloze notes (this is an explanation of cloze notes from to encourage retention and understanding of videos.