Beacon Lesson Plan Library

C is for Cookie-A MEAN-ingful Graphing Activity

Michelle Gowan
Liberty County Schools


Students work in groups to dissect a variety of brands of chocolate chip cookies and calculate the mean for each brand. Students create their own bar graphs, pictographs, and line graphs to represent information


The student locates, organizes, and interprets written information for a variety of purposes, including classroom research, collaborative decision making, and performing a school or real-world task.

The student collects, organizes, and displays data in a variety of forms, including tables, line graphs, charts, bar graphs, to determine how different ways of presenting data can lead to different interpretations.

The student understands and applies the concepts of range and central tendency (mean, median, and mode).

The student solves multi-step real-world problems involving whole numbers, fractions or decimals using appropriate methods of computation, such as mental computation, paper and pencil, and calculator.


- Twenty five cookies, five each of five different brands
- Paper towels, five to ten per group
- Calculater
- Cookie data collection chart
- Writing materials
- 1/2 gallon milk and cups (optional)
- Five labels for bags of cookies

(For each student)
-Scoring rubric for graphs

(For Instructional purposes)
- Overhead projector, transparency, and marking pen
- Review/sample materials for demonstration of mean, line graph, pictograph, and bar graph
- Overhead of scoring rubric
- Chart of scoring rubric to display in the classroom


1. (Three to five school days ahead of scheduled activity) Assign the students to cooperative groups and assign them to bring to class bags of a variety of brands of chocolate chip cookies at least two days ahead of the scheduled activity. Remind them that they are responsible for bringing their own -data- and that they do not need to bring the same brand due to the need to graph a variety of cookie data.

2. (One to two days ahead of scheduled activity) Check that groups have brought in their cookies. Provide them with labels to write their names on their cookies and store them away. Assist any groups having difficulty in gathering their cookies. Note those groups that have properly collected their cookie materials and reward them with praise, treats, etc. Encourage other groups to remember their materials. As a back up, prepare to purchase a supply of cookies to have on hand on the data collection day.

3. Gather materials.

4. Prepare handouts.


1. This activity will create a lot of attention for students in that they must bring in cookies a day or two ahead of the scheduled activity. This tends to build its own excitement. On the day of the activity explain to students that they are going to conduct and gather data using chocolate chip cookies to determine the average number of chocolate chips in each brand of cookies. Be sure to make the following points:
A. Students will be gathering data on at least five brands using five cookies of each brand. This lends to the validity of the experiment. Explain the lack of validity if this experiment were completed with only one cookie/brand. Relate to scientific research for a serious medical problem. If an experiment worked on the first trial but killed the next five subjects, then the results of trials two-five were very relevant.
B. Explain that a fair way to represent the data is to count the number of chips in the cookies and to compute the average, or mean, of the five trials. Ask how students feel this data might be helpful in the real world. Provide the following scenarios as guided discussion:
1. A couple needs to rent their home because they got better jobs in a new town They don't do any research before placing an ad in the paper to rent their home and just pick $800 per month to ask for rent. The average, or mean, rent in their town for a home their size and quality is $650. Will their home rent? What should they have done first? What if they had not done research and the average rental income for a home like theirs was $1,200?
2. What if you were the owner of a computer factory and charged $2,000 for your computers. The average price for a computer in your industry is $1,200. How might this affect your sales?

2. Display the Cookie Data Chart on the overhead and explain to students that they will be carefully pulling apart each cookie and recording the number of chips for each cookie and brand on the chart.

3. Ask groups to designate a recorder to write the data for the group. Pass out the Cookie Data Charts to each recorder. Make sure he/she has a pencil and a calculator (optional).

4. Pass out the paper towels to each group.

5. Organize the data collection by instructing groups to gather five cookies of the first brand to one student in the group. Ask the student to write the cookie brand on his/her paper towel as a reminder. Repeat for the remaining brands of the cookies. Be careful with this step. Students tend to get anxious and want to start dumping cookies or to each collect five of each brand.

6. Work with the entire class as each student dissects his/her first cookie by pulling it apart with his/her hands and separating the chips from the cookie. Model dissecting a cookie and recording data on the transparency chart.

7. Instruct each student to relay the chip total for his/her brand to the group recorder.

8. Ask if students have any questions. Instruct them to repeat the process until all their data is collected. When the group is confident they have completed the data collection successfully, they are free to -eat the data.-

9. Circulate among the students to encourage and assist as needed. Observe for students working together cooperatively and provide feedback for improvement as needed. Continue to observe students who needed additional work in working together cooperatively.

10. Before all groups are done, complete teacher's transparency with artifical data borrowed from students or created ad lib.

11. Demonstrate how to calculate mean for each cookie brand on the overhead.

12. Instruct students to take turns calling out data for each brand to the recorder to calculate the mean for each brand. Recorder will note each mean on the group chart.

13. Compare data of students by asking for feedback from each group. Discuss similarity of data by brands. Note any major discrepancies and discuss validity issues again. If there are major discrepancies, then more trials are needed.

14. Explain to students that they are now going to create individual graphs using the group mean data. Provide each student with a copy of the rubric for this activity. Review how students will be graded.

15. Teacher models how to complete a bar graph, line graph, and pictograph by modeling the data from the teacher chart.

16. Students complete the activities by the end of the second class period.


1. Teacher observation of students working cooperatively.
2. The Group Data Chart will be a formative assessment to show that students understand how to calculate mean and to record data in graphic form.
3. Rubric for chart and graphs: (Summative assessment)
Each graph is worth 100 points.
25 points - graph elements (proper axis and labeling)
25 points - content accuracy
25 points - evidence is shown in space between data areas
25 points - visual appeal is colorful, clean; labels are easy to read


Students should have some exposure to calculating mean and they should also have some chart and graphing experience
Students could write a paragraph to explain the process involved in data collection.

Attached Files

Cookie Group Data Chart     File Extension: pdf

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