[3ACTS] Nissan Girl Scout Cookies

Treatment #1

A small rectangular prism measures 7 inches x 2.3 inches x 4.6 inches. How many times could it fit in a larger rectangular prism with a volume of 39.3 cubic feet?

Treatment #2

Nissan is going to stuff the trunk of a Nissan Rogue full of boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Nissan lists the Rogue’s trunk space as 39.3 cubic feet. A box of cookies measures 7 inches x 2.3 inches x 4.6 inches. How many boxes will they fit in the trunk?

Treatment #3

Show this video.

  1. Ask for questions.
  2. Ask for wrong answers.
  3. Ask for estimates.
  4. Ask for important information.
  5. Ask for estimates of the capacity of the trunk and the dimensions of the box of cookies.
  6. Show the answer.
  7. Ask for reasons why our mathematical answer differs from the actual answer.

Hypothesis

Treatment #1 and Treatment #2 are as different from each other as Treatment #2 is from Treatment #3.

A layperson might claim that Treatment #2 has made Treatment #1 real world and relevant to student interests. But the real prize is Treatment #3, which doesn’t just add the world, but changes the work students do in that world, emphasizing formal and informal mathematisation.

“Real world” guarantees us very little if the work isn’t real also.

Design Notes

You can check out the original Act One and Act Three from Nissan.

I deleted this screen from Act One because I wanted students to think about the information that might be useful and to estimate that information. I can always add this information, but I can’t subtract it.

160301_2

I added a ticker to the end of the video because that’s my house style.

160301_1

I deleted a bunch of marketing copy because it was kind of corny and because it broke the flow of their awesome stop motion video.

I left the fine-print advisory that you should “never block your view while driving” because the youth are impressionable.

The Goods

Download the goods.

[via whoever runs the Bismarck Schools’ Twitter account]

About 
I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.

16 Comments

  1. Reply

    We used the videos last Friday. Wish we had thought to remove the cubic feet. Thanks.

    We asked our staff for help collecting empty boxes. They are different sizes depending on cookie. Students measured as part of act 2 and had to work together in deciding how to handle the different size boxes in coming up with an answer to their question.

  2. Reply

    Great job. This might be my new go to illustration for colleagues when considering how to design tasks (and of how textbooks can suck the fun out of a question). Less helpful, as you say.

    The video edits are helpful for those of us using zany units of measurement too!

  3. Reply

    Paul:

    We asked our staff for help collecting empty boxes. They are different sizes depending on cookie. Students measured as part of act 2 and had to work together in deciding how to handle the different size boxes in coming up with an answer to their question.

    Love it.

    Leslie G:

    I saw this video the other day and immediately thought it would make a good 3 Act, but my skills with videos are non-existent!

    Free free to get in touch next time! Ask me to edit a video. Odds are good I’ll be game!

    Andrew K

    The video edits are helpful for those of us using zany units of measurement too!

    Many, many apologies for our imperial units.

  4. Reply

    My understanding of learning Maths* is that if we lead with Treatment 3 then we will have a classroom of students who will have learnt how many boxes will go in a Nissan Rogue, but who won’t learn from that how to estimate space in general.

    (*Page 62 of my copy of How People Learn, for example.)

    Contrast this with: “I want to ship 500 cookie boxes — will they fit in my car?” And doing it theoretically solves that problem much quicker than trying it out. And before we risk driving to pick them up and find they don’t.

    I’d posit that my version is at least as real, if not more so. It also puts the focus on the Maths, not on the car.

  5. Danny Whittaker

    March 2, 2016 - 10:28 pm
    Reply

    @Chester

    Interesting point. What if after they finished with the Rogue, we had followup questions with a variety of different pictures of trunks and asked how many would fit or which would hold at least 500 boxes? Definitely include a pickup as one of the pictures!

  6. Reply

    Love the simplicity of this task and the idea of it not being forced. Sure the context is nicely laid out, but the need to solve is natural.
    If we’re going to force the math experience we might as well opt for treatment 1.

  7. Reply

    Sure Danny. I like moving from the theoretical to the real. It’s the other way round that I have issues with, because it places the focus in the wrong place.

    Want to fill a Rogue with boxes? Put them in and see. Measuring would be no help at all, and so knowing the volume of the cookie boxes becomes an irrelevant detail rather than the focus.

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