Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Marshmallows, Scatterplots, & Line of Best Fit

Marshmallow Challenge & Scatterplots

I recently watched this YouTube video about the famous Marshmallow Challenge

It got me wondering how I could use this challenge for a math problem beyond the problem solving, team building skills that are naturally in the challenge.

Here is my plan for 8th graders studying scatterplots, correlation and line of best fit.

Day 1:
Each team gets the normal materials from the challenge.
1 yard of tape
1 yard of string
1 marshmallow
20 sticks of pasta
The teams build the structure and measure the height.
Data is tracked for all teams.

Day 2:
We repeat the marshmallow challenge, only the team gets to choose a "power up".  The team can get more tape, string  and/or sticks of pasta.  I was thinking of letting them pick 2 more items from 1 yard of string, 1 yard of tape, and 20 sticks of pasta.  We will then repeat the challenge.

Day 3:
Students will then combine the data and plot it on various scatterplots.
Height vs tape used
Height vs string used
Height vs sticks of pasta used

We will then analyze the scatterplots for correlation and line of best fit.  The students will then have a determine which "power up" had the most effect on the height of the structure.

I am not sure what to expect out of this little experiment.  I hope the students stay engaged over this entire week dealing with the same type of problem.

I am thinking of having them make a prediction from the scatterplot about what would happen with more supplies.  Maybe they should look at the three scatterplots and try to figure out which supply makes the most difference.  Then they can make a prediction of what happens when that supply is increased.

We will see what happens...

Chris
@CjSieling34