Education Technology

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  • Subject Area

    • Math: Algebra I: Data Analysis
    • Math: Algebra I: Linear Functions

  • Author

    Cindy Johnson

  • Level


  • Activity Time

    2 Hours

  • Device
    • TI-83 Plus Family
    • TI-84 Plus
    • TI-84 Plus Silver Edition
    • TI-Navigator™
  • Other Materials
    Students will need uncooked spaghetti, something to use for weight (pennies, nickels, marbles), and a cup with string attached. The large plastic cups work well, then hole punch the cup at the top on opposite sides, and tie a piece of string to make a "bucket" to hold the weights. I have also found that giving each group a box (like a paper box) is very helpful for catching everything when the spaghetti does break.
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Breaking Spaghetti

Activity Overview

Students will do a lab where they keep track of the number of strands of spaghetti versus how many "weights" it takes to break the spaghetti. They will enter lists and create a scatter plot. Students will also find the equation for the line of best fit. The TI-Navigator System can then be used to help with data analysis.

Before the Activity

Students will need background knowledge in entering lists and creating scatter plots on the graphing calculator. They will also need to know how to find a line of best fit and find the equation of that line.

During the Activity

During the activity, students will begin with one strand of spaghetti. They will place this between two desks with about and inch or two of the ends of the spaghetti on each desk. The cup with the string will be hung over the strand of spaghetti, and they will add their weights one at a time until the spaghetti beaks. They will then track the number of strands of spaghetti in L1 and the number of weights in L2. Groups of three or four work well for this lab.

After the Activity

After the activity, the TI-Navigator System can be used to have students show their scatter plots and their lines of best fit through the screen capture feature. Teachers can also use the quick poll feature to foster discussion about the questions at the end of the activity. Teachers can also use the activity center to compile all of the data for the entire class to come up with a better line of best fit. The activity can also be modified for a second part where students use a constant number of strands of spaghetti, and change the distance between the two desks as they find out how many weights it takes to break the strands.