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Tool: Investigating the Height of a Stack of Cookies
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How do you get started at mathematical modeling? Here is an easy, quick, and engaging activity and a “just add data” interactive Excel spreadsheet to accomplish that first modeling task. The task involves developing a mathematical model and making predictions by measuring the height of sandwich cookie stacks for a variety of number of cookies. The experimental data is then placed into an Excel spreadsheet that does all the work to produce the model! Discussion of linear regression and goodness of fit can be done later.

This “just add data” interactive Excel spreadsheet allows for running two simple simulations to investigate changing the average cookie thickness and how it influences the slope of the graph; and how the introduction of the random variation of individual cookie thickness influences the scatter of the data and value of r-squared, a measure of goodness of fit.

Knowledge of Excel is not needed except how to enter data (type numbers into the yellow cells) and working the spinners (click on the up or down arrows) for the simulations! The last page of the guided-inquiry student activity includes a complete explanation as notes to the instructor. So get the centimeter rulers, a package of sandwich cookies such as Oreos, and let the modeling begin.

Technology Type: Excel 
Author: Scott A. Sinex
Language: English 
Cost: Does not require payment for use

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Activity: Investigating the Height of a Stack of Cookies
Courses: Math 6 Length/height, Data collection, Scatter plots
Math 7 Equation of the line, Length/height, Data collection, Scatter plots
Algebra Is It Linear?, Writing an Equation, Line of Best Fit
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