School Trip (Bus) Problem

Teacher's page


The School Trip Problem

You are about to go on a field trip with the entire school. There are 438 teachers, students, and administrators in your building. Everyone will be traveling by school bus. If each bus (excluding the bus driver) can seat a maximum of 30 people, how many buses will you need to transport everyone.

Resources: Use a projection device to enlarge the student page image on the screen or wall or make a transparency of the student page to display the problem with an overhead projector. Manipulatives can be used for counting busses.

: Cooperative Group setting. 

: 6th grade.

: Groups work together to come up with a group answer to the problem.

: CCCS - Cluster 1 Number Sense.

Setting the Stage

  • Have your students sit in groups.
  • Hand out the student page.


Doing the Activity

  • Students should be encouraged to solve the problem in their own way. For example, if they decide to use a calculator they may get 438/30 = 14.6 or .08684 etc depending on whether they interpret 438/30 30 into 438 or vice versa. (Actually if I was guessing I probably would go for the incorrect interpretation since 438/30 looks so much like . The calculator would give the two answers.


  • Students will usually discard the stranger looking number (.068 etc.) and opt for the answer with a number with a whole part.
  • Long division done the usual way yields:






which are also popular answers to this question. Again, sense making is not taken into consideration when students answer 14 R 18 or 14.6 busses.


A good solution for students still struggling with problem solving with division is to answer this question in a sensible and more understandable way  like the one below.



The student would see more clearly why 15 busses (not 14.6) are needed. Of course, this process is not as efficient as knowing what to do with the quotient after dividing, but it's a meaningful step in the right direction.


student page