Across the state, RMA students had the opportunity to experience Math the sweet way— with hands on learning! Our students participated in an exponential growth & decay lab using M&Ms! Previous to the lab, students had explored exponential functions, how to model them and how to create equations using the exponential regression feature on their calculators. Once they mastered the concepts, it was time to model a real-world exponential situation and put their learning into practice!

Students taking Math Models with Applications were able to practice the concept of mathematical modeling in science and engineering, where the student applies mathematical processes with algebraic technique to study patterns and analyze data as it applies to science. Algebra II students practiced applying mathematical processes to understand exponential functions can be used to model real-world situations and solve problems.

The M&Ms in this lab represented the growth and decay of cancerous cells in a body. Students worked in teams of 2-4 to collect data. They conducted 15 trials to represent exponential growth. On each trial, if an “M” was facing up, another M&M was added to the population. Some students found that their population grew so large, that they didn’t have enough m&m’s to add to their population!   The students’ tangible and surprising findings led to a revelatory conversation where students utilized their knowledge and skills to estimate how many M&Ms would be further needed. Once students collected their data, they conducted new trials for exponential decay. This time, if an M&M landed face up, it was removed from the population. After collecting data, students ran an exponential regression on their calculators to determine what the equation would look like to represent their model for growth and decay.   It was an incredible hands-on experience for RMA students. For many, it provided the schema and contextualized learning needed for them to know and understand how exponential growth and decay really works. Students championed each other’s efforts and collaborated to troubleshoot problems created by the exponential growth and decay. While they didn’t get a chance to feed their sweet tooth— they did hone in on their Math skills in a big way!

-Amena Amires
Central Teaching Group Mathematics Teacher

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