Day 1: Preparing for the Investigation
Display the bags of chips to be used for the investigation, for
instance, potato chips, tortilla chips, or banana chips. This
investigation does not involve the brands of chips, but teachers might
design an extension to compare brands of one type of chip.
Hand out an index card to each student, and ask students to write down which chip they think is the best and why.
Divide the students into groups of three, and ask them to read
their responses to their groups. Ask a representative from each group
to report on the group's discussion. On chart paper or the board,
record the criteria that the students used to determine the best chip.
This discussion should help students recognize the difference between
qualitative and quantitative responses, and they should sort the
responses into those two categories. For example, some students might
use qualitative criteria, such as flavor for banana chips, crispiness
for potato chips, and similar attributes. Others might use quantitative
data, such as cost, calories, total fat, and so on.
Discuss with the class the criteria that they used to
determine the best chip, distinguishing between qualitative and
quantitative criteria. Have students select the quantitative criteria,
such as calories, total fat, sodium content, protein, cost per ounce,
number of chips per ounce, and so on, that they can use to determine
the best chip. Discuss how to compare different chips when the servings
are not the same size.
Help the students design a rubric that they can use during the
investigation for each quantitative criterion. The class discussion
should generate a description of each level of the rubric by
determining when a high or low value would be better for each of the
criteria and why. The class chart might resemble the following:
|Criteria ||Low Value ||Medium Value ||High Value |
|Calories ||Less than ____ calories ||Between ____ and ____ calories ||More than ____ calories |
Day 2: Structuring the Investigation
Tell the students that they are preparing reports on the best snack
chips for a consumer magazine. Their reports should include accurate
information, use visual aids to show the information, be well
organized, and have a conclusion or recommendation.
Use the data about calories to model product testing. Discuss ways to present the data, such as through tables,
charts, or graphs.
Distribute calculators and bags of chips or copies
of the nutrition facts, weight, and cost facts to each group. Distribute the Chips for Sale Activity Sheet to each student.
Each student should record the requested information for his or
her brand of chip. Have the groups develop criteria for high, medium,
and low values for the other quantitative data. A sample template is
Allow time for the students to work in groups to gather the
information on each type of chip from the labels. Students can organize
this information using charts, tables, or bar graphs, as they did for
the calorie content. Sample Criteria
|Criteria ||Low Value ||Medium Value ||High Value |
|Calories ||Less than ____ calories per serving||Between ____ and ____ calories per serving||More than ____ calories per serving|
|Total Fat ||Less than ____ percent per serving||Between ____ and ____ percent per serving||More than ____ percent per serving|
|Sodium ||Less than ____ milligrams per serving||Between ____ and ____ milligrams per serving||More than ____ milligrams per serving|
|Protein ||Less than ____ grams per serving||Between ____ and ____ grams per serving||More than ____ grams per serving|
|Cost per Ounce ||Less than ____ per ounce||Between ____ and ____ per ounce||More than ____ per ounce|
Using the information gathered, decide which chip is the best by discussing the criteria. For example:
- Which chip has the fewest calories?
- Would cost be a consideration
if a certain type of chip contains less fat or sodium?
The teacher should circulate among the groups to facilitate their
work, ask groups to explain their thinking, and clarify any
misconceptions about the investigation that the students might have.
Day 3: Concluding the Investigation
Before groups share their data with their classmates, it is
important that they have a discussion about the relative "healthiness"
of the chips they studied. Even the chip they determined to be the best chip
may not be a healthy snack selection. Students should compare the
nutrition information of healthier snacks, such as apples, carrots, and
the like with their chip data. Students can research nutrition
information online. The Food Pyramid is a good starting place for general nutrition information.
Students should use the web to obtain specific nutrition data for their healthy snacks.
The groups give presentations to the class, using the charts,
tables, or graphs that they developed to determine the best chip. The
students should evaluate the presentations given by their classmates.
They should make sure that the calculations are correct, that the
visual aids are readable, and that the presentations support the
criteria for the best chip. The class may also discuss the idea that
best means different things to different people according to what they