The Apartment Search
Most middle schoolers can't wait for a place to call their own. Start them on the right track by giving students an imaginary budget for renting an apartment. Then go online to look for rentals in your area. When kids find something within the budget, challenge them to use the listing information to find the total yearly rent and the rent per square foot. As a class, graph the information students find. What is the most expensive two-bedroom apartment in your area? The least? What about the average cost per square foot?

Going the Distance
Chances are your students dream of driving a certain vehicle, but they may not have considered practicalities like gas mileage. Divide the class into groups and invite each group member to research the gas mileage of his or her dream car, along with the fuel capacity. Next, have students calculate how far they would be able to drive on one tank of gas. Ask groups to compile their data into a chart to share with the class. As an extension, research gas prices in your area to figure out how much one tank would cost.

The Power of Stats
Many professions require the use of math, but one of the most appealing to middle schoolers is professional sports. Invite students to choose a favorite athlete and identify three numbers associated with him or her, such as a percentage, an average, and a record. Write the numbers in the top row of a three-by-four grid, then challenge students to fill in the grid by finding alternate ways to represent each statistic, such as converting a percentage to a fraction or a decimal..