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Cooking Lesson to Teach Data Analysis Concepts

written by: Finn Orfano • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/14/2012

Cooking is a way to teach many math concepts. This data analysis lesson is part of the Teaching through Cooking Series. Students will conduct a classroom survey prior to baking cookies. The data will be graphed and analyzed prior to cooking.

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    Cooking is a great way to involve students in a lesson. This data analysis lesson will demonstrate the basic concepts of data collection and analysis. The type of cookies created will be decided by the analysis of the data.

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    • Cookie recipe for the type of cookie decided upon (choices are chocolate chip, sugar, oatmeal raisin, or chocolate)
    • Class list made into a table and posted on a dry erase board or chalk board
    • Graph paper
    • Spreadsheet program such as Excel
    • Scrap paper
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    Ask students what they know about data analysis and graphing. How can data be analyzed into useful information? Ideas will vary.

    Data will be collected by asking student’s opinions. The results will be graphed and analyzed. Based on the results of the data analysis, a type of cookie will be created.

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    1. Ask students what they know about data analysis and graphing.
    2. Assign a group of students to collect the data. Hand a piece of scrap paper to every student. Each student should write their name and choice of cookie on the paper.
    3. The data collection group will mark the cookie type chosen next to each students name on the empty table. After all of the results have been posted, totals will taken for each type of cookie.
    4. Have students create a graph on graph paper or in a spreadsheet program showing the results of the data collection. The student should choose the type of graph they feel will best display the results of the data collection. Students should be ready to explain why they chose that particular type of graph.
    5. The type of cookie that is the favorite of the majority of students will be baked. Allow for an optional snack if allergies prevent some students from eating the cookies.
    6. Bake cookies according to the recipe.
    7. Students should be able to use data from a table and create a manual graph from it. Questions to ask: is there a significant preference of cookie type between males and females? What information can be derived from the data collected?
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    Analyze other data collected and enter it into a spreadsheet. Include age and gender into the spreadsheet information. Create computer generated graphs to show differences in data based on age and gender.

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    Cross Curricular

    • Set up a bird feeder on school property and collect information on the different species that visit.
    • Join Cornell University’s Ornithology Lab Feeder Watch Program to see how data analysis and science work together.

Teaching through Cooking

Cooking involves so many disciplines. Basic math, geometry, and science are all subjects that can be taught in the kitchen. Teaching through cooking involves all of the senses. Lessons taught in the kitchen solidify concepts and turn abstract concepts into something tangible.
  1. Cook Up Some Fun with Measurement in Math
  2. A Hands-On Way to Teach Volume by Cooking in the Classroom
  3. The Biology of Baking Bread
  4. Teaching Chemistry Through Cooking
  5. Cooking Lesson to Teach Data Analysis Concepts