Real World Math: Measurement - Complex Area
This lesson consists of two parts. 

The first requires students to find the area of a complex shape using formulas and the Google Earth ruler tool.  The objects chosen for this lesson are several crop fields in Minnesota.  The shapes chosen require the area formulas for a parallelogram and triangle.  Remind students that complex area can be found by the addition of parts or by subtracting from a greater whole.  Directions for this first step are found by clicking on the “?” icon in the field.

The second part of the problem is revealed when students click on the house icon.  This section consists of a problem or several problems that a farmer may want to solve, such as “how much money will my crop yield?”  Students will need to be able to solve rate problems with a proportion for this section.

Both problem sections ask that student show their work in steps on paper.  Calculator use is encouraged.  There are three crop fields in this file, but you could add more of a different variety.  Students can even create their own problems to share with the class.

Note:  The included problems involve Minnesota farming.  Teachers are encouraged to design complex area problems that their students can relate to.  Please visit Real World Math’s Community page to offer suggestions or submit a problem of your own.


  • Measure distance
  • Find the area of complex polygons
  • Solve word problems involving rates

Geometry, Measurement & Time, Ratios, Rates & Percents
Middle School, Educator

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Measurement,Degree of Accuracy,Scale,Fractals