If there is one thing Indiana is famous for, it’s corn. I saw this lesson from STatistics Education Web (STEW) on popping corn and introducing the normal distribution and loved the idea.
The basic idea is:
- Make some popcorn in a microwave
- Have students tally the popping count in 5 second intervals and record the frequencies
- Have some students mark where they think certain points on the normal distribution point were reached.
- Discuss the results
What went well:
- All students were engaged the whole time
- It certainly gave a sense of why the curve had a bell shape, thinking about and discussing not only direction of slope, but whether the slope was increasing or decreasing as time went by. I think this will really help with students’ understanding.
- We got to eat some yummy popcorn
Even better if:
- This would be great as the first lesson to introduce the normal distribution. We had already discussed the shape and real world example so some of the impact was lost
- I would like to make more of predictions and pre experiment ideas next time.
- There needs to be more extension questions that link to other distributions and different shapes to contrast and compare
- Check with the schools facilities before using the microwave. Ours blew a fuse on the second run through.