Maximizing Box Volume with Popcorn

IMG_2916Thanks to Fawn, my students actually cared about making the maximum sized box out of their 8.5″x10″ piece of graph paper.  If you don’t do this, you should!  It was very easy and great fun!  You will need to go and read Fawn’s popcorn post because she has all of the great lesson details.

I went minimalist and only showed them a box I had made, and the squares I had cut out to make my box.  I gave them a ruler, scissors, tape and ONE piece of graph paper.  I told them they only got ONE piece of paper.  They worked well and carefully.  Most students chose to fold  the sides in instead of cutting just in case they messed up.  Love them.

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 9.56.16 PMI recently bought an Orville Redenbacher air popper so I brought that in to make the popcorn.  Seriously, this is the best $22.49 I’ve spent in a long time even before I used it for a math lesson!  I even brought in butter.  One of the students took a picture of the air popper so she could buy one.  It was pretty cool with all of the popping going on right in the back of the room.  It smelled heavenly!

Once they made their box they measured it and entered the measurements and resulting volume on a Google Form.  Then I filled up their box with popcorn!  We ate while looking at the Google Form results and then I challenged them to find a general equation for an size cut.  Several students came up with it pretty quickly and then I had them graph it in Desmos to show them how their maximum volume was also on the graph.


4 thoughts on “Maximizing Box Volume with Popcorn

  1. I love it ! So damn creative ! And far more interesting than the typical “Find the shape of a 1 gallon box with min surface area”. Such problems are set by people who never worked in a box factory.

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