Education Technology

Why Aren't There More Reds in My Bag?

Activity Overview

Students use small bags of M&M's® to make predictions, gather data, and display color distribution results in a circle graph. They explore the concept of ratios and sample size.

Before the Activity

  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 53 - 60 from the attached PDF file for your class

During the Activity

Distribute the pages to the class.

Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Arrange the M&M's® in each bag in a circle on paper, with the like colors together, and the sides touching
  • Draw lines from the center to the points where the color changes and create a circle graph
  • Label sections with the color, determine the ratio of a colored M&M to the total M&M's, and express it as a percentage
  • Make a category list in the calculator, enter the colors, and the number of each color
  • Use the data to set up a circle graph
  • Compare the circle graph with the M&M circle
  • Repeat the activity for different packets of M&M's, and compare the graphs with the initial ones
  • Add data obtained by four students and enter it as a new list and create a new graph
  • Combine the whole class data and create a new circle graph
  • Compare the graphs to the actual color distribution graph
  • Understand the idea of small quantity of data (individual) versus large quantity of data (class)

After the Activity

Students complete the Student Activity sheet.

Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary