Grades 3 - 8
Children love to chew gum, but how many of them really understand
the complex process of producing gum, and the many properties which gum
possesses? This lesson allows students to use the scientific method; science
process skills of observing, hypothesizing, gathering and recording data,
interpreting data and controlling variables; and the mathematic skills of
estimating, measuring and graphing to better understand the properties and
production process of the gum they chew.
Here's How, #5: Chewing Gum
Students will be able to:
- list the proper sequence of the gum-making process
- observe, hypothesize, experiment, gather and record data, and interpret
data as they learn about the characteristics of chewing gum
- analyze and graph experimental data
- demonstrate how different variables affect the properties of chewing
- compare and contrast the properties of a variety of chewing gum brands
- estimate and measure the elasticity of chewing gum
For each student:
- graph paper
- copy of the Party in a Package Company letter and data sheets
- copy of sequencing paper
- copy of response recording sheet
For each group of three students:
- meter stick
- gram balance and appropriate gram masses
- three pieces of three different brands of bubble gum
Brainstorm a list of attributes that all varieties of gums have
Create a simple graph which depicts class favorites using post-it notes
on the blackboard. This can also be done by having a variety of gum available
in a basket to be passed around the classroom. Each student is instructed
to select his/her favorite type of gum. The gum should be unwrapped and
the wrappers saved. A quick bar graph can then be made by having students
come forward and tape their wrappers in a row on the blackboard.
Make a list of all the ways we might use gum. Divergent answers such as
for sealing a leaky bicycle tire or closing an opened soda can should be
Review the attached form on the sequence of chewing gum production with
Explain to students they will be viewing a video on chewing
gum. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing, ask them
to determine the steps in the correct order for producing chewing gum using
the attached form. Inform them they will first view the video without sound
in order to try to observe the steps involved in producing chewing gum.
Make sure the volume of the television has been turned off to
ensure that during viewing, students are focused on the steps required to
produce chewing gum, and not on the commentary provided.
BEGIN the video where the block of gum base is on the table in front
of the small girl. Ask students to give a thumbs up sign when they believe
they observe a step required to produce gum.
PAUSE the video at any point that a student raises his/her hand and
allow the student to share what he/she has observed. Ask students to predict
what they believe is happening and record observations on the board to use
for a later activity.
STOP the video when the full boxes of Clorets begin to come off the
assembly line. Have students discuss their observations, noting any similarities
or differences they may have noted from those observations recorded on the
Distribute a copy of the sequencing paper and inform students that they
will now view the video in its entirety, but this time with sound. Ask them
to think about how their predictions match what actually occurs in the gum
making process. Inform students they are required to put the steps for producing
chewing gum into the correct order while viewing the video a second time.
Tell students that you will pause at appropriate points to allow them time
to record the information.
START the video after the opening credits.
PAUSE after the balloon says, "What do they do with the gum
base?" to allow students to find and appropriately record their sequencing
RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says, "...the
hot syrup is ready." Allow students time to record the information.
RESUME the video and PAUSE after it shows the glycerin being
blended in. Students record information. (#3)
RESUME the video and PAUSE when narrator says, "...everything
is mixed together." Students record the information on their sequencing
RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says "...thin
as a stick of gum." Students record this information on their sheet.
RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says, "That's
the cooler behind you." Students record information. (#6)
RESUME the video and PAUSE when the balloon says, "It's
cool in here all right!" Students record this information. (#7)
RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says, "...sprayed
and dried five times." Students should record this information. (#8)
RESUME the video and PAUSE as it shows the gum pellets going
up the conveyor belt. Students should record the fact on their sheet. (#9)
RESUME the video and PAUSE as it shows the full Cloret boxes
coming out of the packaging machine. Students record the information. (#10)
After viewing the video the second time, explain to students
they will be conducting an experiment which will require them to collect
data about three different types of gum. The data will be used to write
their opinion about which type of gum a birthday party company should use
in their party packets. Distribute the attached letter and accompanying
data sheets to each working group of three students. Discuss the meanings
of the words: estimated length, actual length, and average length. If students
have not worked with the idea of determining averages, spend time explaining
how to determine the average of a set of numbers by randomly generating
three numbers and walking students through the process. After students have
conducted the experiment and returned their data collection sheets, provide
them with the response recording sheet.
Review the requirements presented by the Party in a Packet Company letter,
highlighting the fact that the company requires each research team to send
them a letter with the team's choice of gum and a clear explanation of how
students arrived at their decision. Lead a discussion about what behaviors
are and aren't acceptable during the experiment process, including in the
discussion a note about throwing each brand of gum away after it has been
used. Have students conduct the experiment as outlined in the Party in a
Packet Company letter.
After all groups have completed the experiments, discuss the results. Highlight
the similarities and differences in results. Pose the following questions:
What variables affected the elasticity of the gum? What variables might
we have control over? What variables do we not have control over? How do
researchers in a scientific environment control some of these variables?
How could we control some of these variables in the classroom if we repeated
Contact a local food processing plant to arrange a tour to view
the production process.
Write to a national chewing gum company and ask them if their process is
similar to the one viewed in the video.
Invite a local scientist into the classroom to discuss how they use the
scientific process in their work. Have the scientist discuss the importance
of mathematics in what they do each day.
Art: Design a new flavor of chewing gum and create a promotional
poster convincing consumers to try your product.
Science: Conduct experiments using sugar-free gums and regular gum instead
of bubble gum. Compare your results.
Writing: Write a story describing how you feel in each step of the chewing
gum production sequence.
Writing: Research the history of chewing gum and write a report.
Mathematics: Design and implement a survey to discover what type of chewing
gum is the most popular in your school. Post the results for each class
and the entire school in a common area for school members to see.
Critical Viewing/Writing: Watch a Saturday morning show and record a chewing
gum advertisement. Watch the commercial again and cite examples of how the
advertiser uses color, language, and graphics to convince you to buy the
Asch, Frank. Gia and the One Hundred Dollars Worth of Bubble Gum. New York:
Gilson, Jamie. Do Bananas Chew Gum? New York: Lathrop, Lee & Shepard
Gregorich, Barbara. The Gum on the Drum. Michigan: School Zone Publishing,
Hendrickson, Robert. The Great American Chewing Gum Book. Pennsylvania:
Hooks, William H. Mr. Bubble Gum. New York: Bantam Books, 1989.
Jackson, Jacqueline. The Taste of Spruce Gum. Boston: Little, Brown, 1966.
Nagler, Eric. "Fiddle Up a Tune" [sound recording]. Toronto: Elephant
Palmer, Hap. "Backwards Land" [sound recording]. New York: Educational
Pennington, Jean A.T. Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1994.
Poploff, Michelle. Busy O'Brien and the Great Bubble Gum Blowout. New York:
Master Teacher: Douglas Hoff
Mast Way Elementary School, Lee, NH
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worksheet associated with this lesson.
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