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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.
ITV Series
Here's How, #5: Chewing Gum
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
For each student:

For each group of three students:

Pre-Viewing Activities
Brainstorm a list of attributes that all varieties of gums have in common.

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 encouraged.

Review the attached form on the sequence of chewing gum production with the class.
Focus Viewing
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.

Viewing Activities
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 blackboard.

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 form. (#1)

RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says, "...the hot syrup is ready." Allow students time to record the information. (#2)

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 sheet. (#4)

RESUME the video and PAUSE after the narrator says "...thin as a stick of gum." Students record this information on their sheet. (#5)

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)
Post-Viewing Activities
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 the experiment?
Action Plan
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 product.

Asch, Frank. Gia and the One Hundred Dollars Worth of Bubble Gum. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1974.

Gilson, Jamie. Do Bananas Chew Gum? New York: Lathrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1980.

Gregorich, Barbara. The Gum on the Drum. Michigan: School Zone Publishing, 1984.

Hendrickson, Robert. The Great American Chewing Gum Book. Pennsylvania: Chilton Book
Co., 1976.

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 Records, 1982.

Palmer, Hap. "Backwards Land" [sound recording]. New York: Educational Activities, 1987.

Pennington, Jean A.T. Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used.
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1994.

Poploff, Michelle. Busy O'Brien and the Great Bubble Gum Blowout. New York: Walker and
Co., 1990.

Master Teacher: Douglas Hoff
Mast Way Elementary School, Lee, NH

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