Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sunflower Seed Spitting Contest

A great way to show real world associations with math is the Classroom Seed Spitting Contest Investigation.  The many objectives intended for this lesson keep evolving as I fine tune the conditions for my students but this year the focus was estimating and rounding, collecting data using a t-chart, creating bar and pictograph charts using the collected data, creating targets with reasonable numbers, friendly or benchmark numbers that could be quickly added and recorded, and measurement using yard sticks.  It should be noted that lessons on bar/pictographs, collecting data using a t-chart and measurement in inches was well established prior to this end of the year activity.  

Materials Needed:  Sunflower seeds, large poster board size paper, pencils markers, yard sticks, recording data sheet (PDF below), bar graph (PDF below), pictograph (PDF below).

Target Practice

Kids get into small groups.  They create a bullseye target using the chart paper identifying point value for each ring on the target.  The point value is designated using friendly numbers or benchmark numbers that the group decides on as a whole.  Next they take turns, three turns each spitting the seeds into the target.  Students record and add the results using mental math strategies on the recording data sheet.  I had the students lay the target on the desks and line up for their turn to spit the seed.

Distance The Seed Traveled in Inches

Students kept in the same group but instead of using the target the goal was to spit it as far as you could without going off the table.  Each student had three tries.   I had the kids decide on how they would measure the distance.  It was decided as a class that they should use the yardsticks laying them end to end on the desks.  Students recorded the data
on the Distance The Seed Traveled in Inches Sheet for each student and added the total using mental math strategies for each student.


A winner for each group then had the chance for a final round of Target Practice and Distance The Seed Traveled in Inches.  A winner for each round took home a seed spitting award.  I made this simply by filling a glass jar with seeds and labling it and covering the lid with felt.  A picture of both awards is shown below.

Collected data from the winners of both events is used to create a bar and pictograph.  Both are listed below in a PDF for your use.  Students are given the results and are asked to complete the bar and pictograph with their partners in the group.  We came back to congress or share the results on the rug as a whole class after the groups completed the graphs.

Downloadable Resources:
Sunflower Seed Spitting Contest: Data Collection (pdf file)
Sunflower Seed Spitting Contest: Graphing Activity (docx file)

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