How Much Water Can A Penny Hold?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Update 5-2-17! I have made a completely digital STEM challenge from this blog post! Check it out! 

Today we incorporated a little science into our math lesson.  We have been investigating data and then using the data to calculate statistics such as range, median, mode and mean.  Today we focused on using the data to find each one of these terms.  Later we will explore the appropriate times to use median, mode, and mean.  I know it is getting close to summer vacation so I try to make the lessons even more engaging in order to keep their attention.  I am happy to say, the students were engaged and completed the investigation wonderfully! It is always good when a plan comes together.

I gave every group a handout, cup of water, a pipet or water dropper, paper towel and a penny.
If you would like to get your hands on a digital version of this activity click HERE! 

We first predicted how many drops a penny could hold.  To my surprise, they all said amounts under 5 drops.  (I thought for sure one of the students had done this in previous years and would tell the others that a penny can hold a lot more than 1 or 2 drops)

After we predicted, we talked about the importance of going slow, when dropping water onto the penny.  We talked about the difference between a drop and a squirt, to prevent any foul play :)

As groups finished, they recorded their data on the white board so that other groups could also see and record the information on the handout.  

The next part of the activity involved making a stem and leaf plot as well as a line plot.  This was a good informal assessment for me, since it showed me if they remembered how to make each of these graphs.  

Afterwards, students worked in groups on the remaining questions in the handout.  They discovered range, median, mode, mean and outliers.  In the first class our outlier was 7 and in the second class our outlier was 42.  The third class's outlier was a little more difficult to identify and the reasoning behind what the students came up with was thought provoking and showed their critical thinking skills.

I would love to hear your ideas on how to teach statistics and outliers! Let me know if you use this lesson in your class and how it turns out!

Peace, Love, Math- Jenn

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