In this lesson students will learn to estimate large quantities
of data. They will first estimate the amount of beans in a tub, then verify
their estimates by using various methods of calculation. In "Eddie
Files," Miss Tolliver introduces ancient Egyptian methods of recording
Students will then use one of the methods they have learned or viewed on
the video to find a fairly correct amount for a large population to be counted
such as cars per household, children per family, usage of certain grocery
items per family, etc.
Eddie Files #102C Estimation: Going to the Dogs
- estimate the amount of beans in the large bin.
- verify their estimate by using an appropriate method to calculate
a total amount.
- solve a large scale problem posed by the teacher using one of the
methods they have learned while watching the video and doing the lesson
- small rectangular containers - one per group of 3-4 students such
as small boxes or plastic containers
- two larger, identical rectangular bins - one filled with beans, the
- 25 lbs. of beans (less beans can be used, however a greater number
of beans is desirable to achieve the same effect)
- math journals - optional
- hieroglyphs as per Miss Toliver's lesson - optional (see attachment)
- poster displaying the key for the hieroglyphs - optional
Pose the following question to students: How do we know how
many insects a certain number of songbirds can eat in one day? or How do
we know how many pounds of oranges are produced each year? Have students
write down how they think such problems are figured out.
Arrange students into groups of 3 or 4. Explain to the class
that the students in Miss Toliver's class are going to have to figure out
how many things there are in a large amount. Explain to the class that they
will be doing a similar activity. Remind the children to watch for a few
pointers on how they can figure out their problem that you will pose to
In Estimation: Going to the Dogs Miss Tolliver, dressed as an
Eygptian, challenges students to learn many ways to estimate and record
large quantites of data, including the ancient method of using hieroglyphs.
BEGIN the video where Miss Toliver's students are using their math
journals to decipher the hieroglyphs she has written on the board.
PAUSE after Miss Toliver has posed the problem of how the children
can use their small bins and the large empty bin to help them verify their
estimates. Pose this question to the students and elicit responses. RESUME
the video until the students in Miss Toliver's class have successfully completed
the task and Miss Toliver states, "Your strategy worked."
STOP the video and have students follow part one of the Post Viewing
Activity. You will return to the video after the activity is completed.
After Miss Toliver states, "Your strategy worked." and the video
has been stopped, show students the bin of beans. Explain that you have a
similar problem for each group to work out. How many beans are in the bin?
Have students write down an estimate first and share this estimate with
Distribute one smaller container to each group and have students use any
method they can think of in their attempt to come up with the number of
beans. It would be helpful for the teacher to know approximately how many
beans there really are. Once the students decide they have found a way to
figure the amount of beans, the real amount of beans may be revealed or
the students may have to solve a hieroglyphic puzzle as the students in
Miss Toliver's class did.
Follow-up this activity by demonstrating how to use scales to figure out
the amount of beans.
Upon completion of the first post viewing activity, RESUME playing
the video. After the rest of the Eddie Files #102 has been viewed, discuss
with the class how they think the people in the video can make such statements
as to how many ladybugs are in each container or how many insects bats can
After the students have watched the second segment of the Eddie Files #102,
discuss with the class how researchers might use quantitative data. It is
important, for instance, to know how many patients a doctor or a dentist
can see during his or her working day. It is also important to know how
much food cattle or horses will need each day.
Assign to each student or group of students a problem similar to the one
Miss Toliver poses to her students. Have the children work on this assignment
for a longer period of time such as a weekend or a week.
This lesson lends itself to further investigations on predicting
supply and demand within a community and even the country. In addition,
it can lead to discussions about sampling methods in order to learn more
about supply and demand.
The class could take a field trip to a factory or a farm. Have students
interview the manager in order to learn how the managers of such businesses
have to estimate the supply and demand in order to run a well managed business.
Invite a community member who large quantity estimation to the class and
have the students interview that person.
Interview the food buyer and menu planner for the school cafeteria. How
are food quantities estimated for each school lunch?
If none of the students have used the scales and weights, ask
the class how these devices could have been used to figure the amount of
beans. If students have a hard time finding a solution to this problem,
you may want to model massing a smaller, easier to count amount of beans
like a small container full of beans.
Have students count how many beans there are in the small container. Then,
students could mass the weight of the beans in the large bin. Divide this
mass by the mass of the small container. This will result in the amount
of small containers that would fit into the large bin.
Multiply the number of beans in one container by the amount of small containers
that could fit into the large bin.
Master Teacher: Gerlinde Wirzfeld-Olvera
Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online