The Snickers Problem: The Aftermath

What math class looked like this week

What math class looked like early this week

There is nothing quite like watching the students get there hands dirty with the mathematics. This is especially true when the students are literally getting their hands dirty. In this case, it was with caramel, chocolate and nougat.

Here is some of the aftermath of the students exploring The Snickers Problem. (Check it out for a description.)

Snickers #2

To me, the value of this assignment lies in its ability to draw the students in. This problem featured 100% engagement. It featured the type of proportional reasoning that shows up in endless amounts in our unit on Similarity and Dilations. The students were analyzing the size comparison of a fun-sized Snickers and predicting the number of peanuts.

Others preferred the more antiquated utensils...

Others preferred the more antiquated utensils…

This was a fantastic activator. Formal proportional reasoning is difficult for many students, but informal proportional reasoning is intuitive. Many of the students found that their predictions were pretty close. (Although, we did find some Snickers that had remarkably low numbers of peanuts.)

Knife and fork worked for some

Knife and fork worked for some

And the fantastic questions that come up when students are thinking mathematically.

Is this prediction close enough?

What do we do about half-peanuts and peanut pieces?

Their prediction was right, but ours was wrong… but we predicted the same thing! Our snickers had different number of peanuts!

These are all evidence of students having to have an experience with the mathematics. That’s something I’d like to see more of.


2 thoughts on “The Snickers Problem: The Aftermath

    • In searching around, I realized that I didn’t have a handout for The Snickers Problem, so I’ll describe what I did.
      Go here:

      There you’ll find a video that was the hook. Then I passed out the fun size Snickers and let them measure and discuss to come up with a prediction as to the peanut count. I required them to have some sort of a mathematical, analytically-based reasoning. Didn’t have to include proportional reasoning, but it needed to be more than “mmmeh… looks like about half.”

      Then we busted into them and counted them up.

      Then we dealt with things like how do we analyze the data when each Snickers has different numbers of peanuts. That can go a lot of different directions, by the way.

      I hope I’ve given you something useful and I’m sorry that I took so long to get a response to you.

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