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Cyber Combos

Alex Sabatino
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials
Grade Level
Time Alloment
One or two 45 minute class periods


This is an interactive media-rich lesson in which students examine the methods of showing all possible ways that two or more sets of objects can be combined. Prior to beginning the lesson, students will be asked to bring in a funky t-shirt and a crazy pair of sunglasses. When the introductory activity begins, groups of students are asked to select three of the funniest t-shirts and two of the craziest sunglasses brought in by their group members. Groups will then be asked to make as many combinations of funny t-shirts and sunglasses as possible. They will discover that to eliminate duplicate combinations, they must write them down. Students will also discover that six combinations are possible with three t-shirts and two sunglasses. If the numbers of each item are multiplied, the total number of combinations can be predicted before combining. The activity continues with the teacher giving each group two more funny accessories, whether they are boas or fake jewelry. Groups are then asked to predict the number of combinations and then to list them. The class then views clips from the Cyberchase episode "A Day at the Spa" to see how the Cyberchase team overcomes problems using combinations. The video also presents other possible ways to show total combinations: tables and tree diagrams. The video activities end with an examination of using combinations to make the lunch menu at a deli more interesting. After the video, students will go on the Internet and play the interactive online Cyberchase game "Disguise Combos." The game asks them to predict the number of possible combinations of wigs and glasses possible for each of the Cyberchase team members. The lesson culminates in a fashion show. Groups pick three or four of their funniest combinations and model them for all the other groups.

Learning Activities

Students will be able to:
  • Use lists, tables, and tree-diagrams to represent total combinations;
  • Select the appropriate method for representing total combinations;
  • Predict the number of combinations using multiplication.


National Council of Teachers of Mathematics grades K-12
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems. (Number and Operations)
  • Solve problems that arise in mathematics and in other contexts. (Problem Solving)
  • Communicate their mathematical thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others. (Communication)
  • Recognize and apply mathematics in contexts outside of mathematics. (Connections)
  • Select, apply, and translate among mathematical representations to solve problems. (Representation)

Media Components


Cyberchase #111: A Day at the Spa

Web sites:

Disguise Combos
A game on the PBS Kids Cyberchase site, this activity applies student knowledge of the combinations by challenging them to create as many disguises as possible for the Cyberchase team.


Per Group of Three or Four students:

  • At least 3 different T-shirts, and 2 different pairs of sunglasses (provided by students)
  • 2 different costume accessories of the same type (boas, costume jewelry, scarves, hats, wigs, etc.) per group. Vary the categories among the groups.