As students entered the class, they were met with this poster both on the screen and in a hand-out. I asked them to write down any thoughts.
Moments later they quickly came up with group names for the unfolding scenarios. Acting as race consultants, their job was to determine best caffeinated drinks that could be found in local stores. From some of my triathlon days, I remember grabbing the early morning caffeine to get me going.
Groups met to determine first steps. As they began working through the data, they realized that it was difficult to compare the caffeine amounts due to drink sizes. We’ve also been working with spreadsheets so they extracted information from the poster and inputted the data. Soon, members wanted to figure out the mg of caffeine in 1 oz.
By the end of the class, good discussions about data had taken place. Many started asking me for spreadsheet sorting techniques as they delved into their data and created graphs.
The next class, potential clients responded with a few questions for them to consider:
- My brother always wants to be up to date with the latest trends. He stood in line for the latest i-phone and he’ll go watch Twilight because everyone else is (he’s not even a vampire). He wants to know what drink to buy if he is to get the typical or most common amount of caffeine. Could you help him out?
- One of my best friends never pays attention to research, labels or, well anything! I’m trying to get him to slow down and pay attention because it would really help. At the moment he just grabs whatever is the closest drink. What amounts of caffeine could he possibly be putting into his body?
- Wow! What has happened to drinks these days. I asked my dear Aunt Sally to pick me up a drink before my race the other day. I told her to just get a middle-of-the-road drink. You know, nothing too strong, nothing too weak. She’s really nice and came back with a tall coffee from Starbucks. Talk about the prerace jitters! Was this really a middle-of-the-road caffeine drink? Please let me know.
Students are diving into the data. This project works on a quick turn-around as students will put together presentations about their recommendations by next class. I’ve found the poster and scenario to be good entry points for the students to discuss measures of center. Instead of a “typical” reply of, “Oh, what word is it? Mode?” students talk about the data. When they move over to spreadsheets, the formula word is the key to obtaining their desired values.
Using Google Docs has let me watch their spreadsheets develop. I can chat with them but large amounts of problem solving happen on their end. This shift to working with the data instead of crunching numbers has resulted in richer math conversations.