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Activity Name: Counting Candy Colors

Field of Study: Behavioral and Social Sciences (including Mathematics)

Grade Level: 3rd through 5th

Time Required: Approximately 1 hour

Description: Ever wonder about the different colors in a bag of M&M’s or Skittles or other multi-colored candy? Are they all the same in each bag? Are there usually more colors than another? This activity will teach students how to make observations and how to do a simple mathematical analysis of the results.

Skills to be Used: Observation, Measurement, Prediction

Materials: Standard-size packages of plain M&M's or other favorite multi-colored candy, plain graph paper and colored pencils or markers, and lab notebook

Procedures:

1. Open the first package of candy. Count the number of each color and write the numbers in a data table with the color of candy in a column and the number in a row. Do not eat the candy before you count them!

2. Repeat for each package of candy. Test at least five packages, but as many as the parents will allow. The more samples, the better the data will be.

3. Calculate the total number of candies in each package.

4. For each candy color, calculate the total number in all of the packages combined.

5. Calculate the average number of each candy color per package. Also calculate the average number of candies per package. Do this by dividing the total numbers calculated in step 4 by the number of packages (which should be 5 or more). Write the answers in the "Average" column in the data table.

6. Calculate the percentage of each colored candy per package using the average data. Do this calculation by dividing the average number of each color (calculated in step 5) by the average number of candy in the whole bag and then multiplying the answer by 100.

For example, if there are an average of 5 red candies in each bag and an average of 50 candies in a whole bag, you will divide 5 by 50 (which equals 0.10) and then multiply by 100 (which gives 10%).

7. Make a graph of all the findings in this activity.

8. Do some investigation online to answer these questions;

a. In the average package of candy, which color is most common (highest frequency)?

b. Which color is the rarest (lowest frequency)?

c. Do any of the colors have the same frequencies?

d. Do you see any other trends in your data in the bar graph?

Skill Source : Mark W. Oleksak, PhD