McDonalds moves towards antibiotic-free chicken


Recently McDonald's announced that by 2016 they will use only chicken raised without the antibiotics that are used in human medicine.  McDonald's plans to join Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread, Chiptotle, and Whole Foods in the move towards removing antibiotics in the food that we consume in order to decrease antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans.

What will the effects be on costs at the restaurant, costs in the supermarket and the cost and changes required of farm production?  Does this seem like a good move?  Why? Do the math!

Earth Day, 2015

Wednesday, April 22nd, is Earth Day.  We have two great activities to help students appreciate the beauty and fragility of where we live.
BlueMarble The Blue Marble - Students compare maps with this famous photo and check to see which characteristics are maintained in each sort of mapping (Mercator, Goode homolosine, Gall–Peters, Winkel tripel) and which characteristics are distorted.

Start your class with a wonderful movie (produced by the Overview Institute) that shows the Earth as it was seen for the first time from space and the impact of that view.


Cost of light bulbs - Students learn more about LED and CFL light bulbs as they analyze and graph their energy use and costs of lights and appliances.  Students use decimals operations, order of operations, graphing, systems and piecewise functions in this activity to help them think about ways to conserve the energy that they use.

Patriots’ Day historically and the Boston Marathon


That's Jerry, my nephew, waving.from the left.

Monday, April 20, is Patriot's Day and the next running of the Boston Marathon.

  • What do you know about marathons?
  • What do you know about the Boston Marathon?
  • How long do you think the marathon is? Make your best guess.
  • How many people run it? Make your best guess.
  • Make an educated guess as to the fastest marathon time.  

We've gathered a lot of great data and asked some sensible and some surprising rate questions.  Enjoy the conversation of page 1 of the activity as a class task and then set your students to work calculating the rest.

Can you predict the Bears’ 2015 schedule and win big?

Click on the poster image to see it larger.

Clicking on the poster image will show it larger in a new window.

This year, the Chicago Bears have created a schedule-predicting contest with the prize being two tickets to all 16 home and away games.

  • Plus air fare and lodging for the road games
  • Plus $500 per road game in walking-around money 8 road games equals $4,000.

How many possible schedules do you think there are?  What are some likely schedules? Brian and math ed leader/blogger/educator Denis Sheeran collaborated on this engaging activity.

Big Bucks


Giancarlo Stanton and Wayne Rooney

Giancarlo Stanton and Wayne Rooney signed big contracts this year, paying each of them millions.  Lets take a look at some of the world's biggest sports contracts from the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB and European Football (what Americans call soccer).  We often hear about big player contracts, sometimes over 100 million or even 200 million dollars!  But who makes the most per year?  In this activity, with a twist on unit rate, students find the average pay per year or "unit rate of pay" for a collection of highly paid athletes. Students think about unit rate, proportionality, slope and the relationship between multiplication and division.

Figuring planting dates


It's time to get ready to plant my garden again.  But here in Boston we have to start our seeds indoors to give them a head start before we can put plants outside. How should I figure out when to plant my vegetable and flower seeds indoors so that those little plants will be ready to go outside after the frost-free date?

The seed package tells me how many weeks early to plant seeds indoors and how long the seeds will take to sprout but this sure seems like a lot of counting backwards to figure out when I should plant my seeds here in Boston.

This activity introduces students to the use of the computational power of a spreadsheets to easily count the time between two dates.