K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate an understanding of percent, fraction, and decimal conversions.
  • demonstrate an understanding of collecting data on a spreadsheet.
  • demonstrate an understanding of using a spreadsheet to make conversions with percents, fractions, and decimals.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 days


  • 1 Bag each of different brands of Microwave Popcorn
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Popcorn Activity Sheet: doc | rtf

Technology resources

  • Microwave
  • Access to a Computer lab
  • Word 2000, Excel 2000, or other similar software.


Students will need to have a clear understanding of percents, fractions, and decimals.


  1. Each group of 3 or 4 students gets a different brand bag of popped microwave popcorn. The teacher pops the popcorn prior to class. It may be popped at home, in the teacher’s lounge, or wherever a microwave is available for use.
  2. All students will need a paper plate & napkin.
  3. The students in each group will distribute, as evenly as possible, the contents of their bag to each group member. “Do not eat your manipulative (yet)!”
  4. Within the group, each member will count the popped & unpopped kernels & total their numbers for their group’s bag.
  5. The students will record their data on the Popcorn Activity Sheet.
  6. After recording their data on the worksheet, the students may consume the manipulative (popcorn) and clean up their mess.
  7. Each group shares the data they collected on their brand of popcorn and records it on their own Popcorn Activity Sheet.
  8. The students will individually produce a computer-generated spreadsheet and plug in the data from class worksheet.
  9. Using data on spreadsheet, students will convert this data to percents, fractions, and decimals.


The completed Popcorn Activity Sheet and spreadsheet will be assessed for accuracy. After each group has counted their popped and unpopped kernels, that information is reported to the class as a whole. The teacher will have a transparency of the Popcorn Activity Sheet displayed on the overhead. One member of each group will record their group’s information in the first three columns of the activity sheet. At this time, each student begins working individually. They must record their calculations for the other seven columns. The teacher then assesses these calculations for accuracy. All student’s calculations should be the same being they began with the same information in the first three columns. (The teacher may request that the decimal calculations be rounded to the nearest tenth, hundredth, or whole number etc.)

Supplemental information


I plan to use and expand on this lesson plan to integrate math and science. When introducing the scientific method, I will control my variables by having the same size bags of popcorn (3.5 ounces for example), pop the bags with the same microwave at the same power for the same amount of time.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • Mathematics (2010)
      • Grade 6

        • Ratios & Proportional Relationships
          • 6.RPR.3Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations. Make tables of equivalent ratios relating quantities with whole-number...
        • The Number System
          • 6.NS.3Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 6

  • Goal 1: Number and Operations - The learner will understand and compute with rational numbers.
    • Objective 1.02: Develop meaning for percents.
      • Connect the model, number word, and number using a variety of representations.
      • Make estimates in appropriate situations.
  • Goal 4: Data Analysis and Probability - The learner will understand and determine probabilities.
    • Objective 4.06: Design and conduct experiments or surveys to solve problems; report and analyze results