6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 14, 2015 8:22 PM by glen_w

    Stem Snacks – Using math in science


      Recently my students created their own variations on the infamous “Diet Coke® & Mentos®” experiment.



      Students then designed their own experiments – with the goal of identifying the independent and dependent variables. Many of my students planned to measure the height of their experiment. I, however, discovered most students were unsure how to measure height like this. I then needed to assist students by taping a meter stick to the tree behind the experiment area. Students then could use a computer to measure the meter stick and then compare it to the height of their data.


      Results were interesting. Students tested a wide variety of materials (different candies as well as different sodas) and discovered that Diet Coke® and Mentos® are not the only materials that create geysers.


      I wondered how this learning experience might relate to the Common Core. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject:

      • What other methods could students use to measure the height of a geyser of liquids like this?
      • What activities do your students to to know the difference between independent and dependent variables?
      • How does this activity help teach Common Core Standards (ELA or math)?
        • Re: Stem Snacks – Using math in science

          Students could be ready on their backs with simple home-made quadrants to measure the angle formed between the line of sight and the ground and then use trig. If the angle if 45 degrees, then the height is equal to the distance from the viewer to the bottle. You could also mark the shadow of the column, if there is one, and use similar triangles.


          For our first experiment, we used a game I have called Battling Tops. The students wanted to know if any of the tops were more likely to win, or if other factors (variables) were more important. We discussed the different variables and then the students conducted experiments. Here are links to a couple of the experiments:


          Experiment 1

          Experiment 2 (to confirm exp 1)

          Experiment 3


          Some of the standards include recording and interpreting data, and solving problems including measurement.

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          • Re: Stem Snacks – Using math in science

            If you had a side photo with three vertices (peak of fountain, start of fountain, and reference point), you could measure two sides of the triangle and then mathematically determine the third side (the height). Also, there is an iPad app called How High, How Far that is supposed to measure heights. I don't know how good it is, but if it is decent, you could use it as a comparison with your students' measurements.

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            • Re: Stem Snacks – Using math in science

              My students did this activity again last month. We were able to get excellent data. The tallest "Diet Coke" rose 5.4 meters (17 feet 8 inches) into the air. There was great enthusiasm for this experiment!