Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4

Bubble Gum Contest

Video Overview
The class listens to a letter from the president of a fictitious bubble gum company who would like to promote his bubble gum by having a contest, which the students will test out. To win the contest, an individual must blow a bubble in twenty seconds or less. The class discusses why it is important to have enough winners to ensure that consumers buy the product but not so many winners that the company loses money. After seeing a demonstration, students try blowing bubbles themselves to determine what fraction of the class would be winners. After students discuss their findings, they decide to enlarge the sample by collecting data from all third-grade classes in the school to determine the fraction of each class that would win. Students work with the concept of sampling and use fractions to interpret their data. The fraction of each sample that 3wins2 is placed on a number line. Students are encouraged first to decide whether each fraction is closer to 0, 1*2, or 1 and then to estimate and justify a more precise placement of each fraction. The lesson concludes with a homework assignment calling for students to write a letter to the company president explaining their results and recommendations.

Topics for Discussion

The following areas provide a focus for discussion after you view the video. You may want to customize these areas or focus on your own discussion ideas.

Using Student-Generated Data

  1. Why is student-generated data important for learning mathematics?

  2. Working in small groups, students were to make a plan for testing another group of third-grade students. Their plan was to include these components: (1) tell the purpose of the activity; (2) tell the jobs of each person and the rules of the contest; and (3) record the information collected. What do you think of the responsibilities that were given to the groups? How well were students able to carry out their plans?

  3. Describe how students were placed in the role of decision makers for the company. Why was this done?

  4. What is the value of having students write a letter to the president of the company? How can the letter be used to assess whether the lesson objectives were achieved? Develop criteria that could be used to evaluate each letter.

Developing Fraction Number Sense

  1. To compare the data from the bubble gum contest, Ms. Hermida had students place fractions on a number line. What is the value in emphasizing the use of the benchmarks

  2. How did Ms. Hermida facilitate the students1 understanding of fractions by providing benchmarks for their thinking, comparing, and estimating? Discuss additional ways to help students relate fractions to the benchmarks of 0, 1/2, and 1.

  3. How effective was the number line as a focus for determining the relative sizes of the fractions generated? How effective was it for seeing the similarities and differences in the fraction of each sample for who could blow a bubble in twenty seconds or less?

  4. Describe the strategies students used for estimating the placement of the various fractions on the number line.

  5. Ms. Hermida commented, 3Anytime we do this experiment, the resultsScan never be more than one.2 What did she mean by this statement?


Advertising Claims

Companies often use contests to advertise their products or services, or they make claims regarding the value of their products and services. Construct a list of current advertising claims. Which of these claims could students try to verify by collecting and analyzing data? Develop plans for helping students become critical consumers as well as good marketing strategists. These investigations could lead to students writing letters to companies about the claims companies make for their products and services.


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