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Nobody likes getting tickets. For many people they’re merely an annoyance; for people struggling to make ends meet they can be a serious burden. And since many states levy additional monthly fees when someone can’t pay off a fine in its entirety, some people get stuck in a cycle of debt that’s difficult to escape.

In this lesson, students write linear equations and solve linear systems to examine the relative difficulty of paying off a small municipal fine. They also discuss what can happen to the most financially vulnerable citizens when cities rely heavily on fines for revenue.

Students will

  • Write and solve a system of linear equations and interpret the intersection in a real-world context
  • Explore how changing the slopes and y-intercepts affects where (and if) two lines intersect
  • Use a unit rate to create a table, graph, and equation

Before you begin

Students should be comfortable relating a scenario to an equation to a graph. Previous experience with systems of equations is not needed.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices

Shoutouts

John Oliver, Hali Woods, Tom Barrett, Harriet Cleveland. Image courtesy of Chris Yarzab (https://www.flickr.com/
photos/chrisyarzab/7856942124)