Snack Smarter


Jamie Dicks

Unit Title:

Snack Smarter





Unit Activities:

Background Knowledge: 

Students will need to have an understanding of fractions and comparisons before completing the unit. They will also need basic number sense.


July 2013

The Big Idea (including global relevance)

Big Idea: Improving the nutritional content of the food that we eat.

Global Relevance: 

Childhood obesity is becoming an increasingly relevant concern in our country as well as other developed countries around the world.  This leads to health problems in later years and even fatalities. 

Through this unit, students will develop their knowledge of nutrition and making healthier food choices.  This affects individual students in a positive way in terms of self-esteem and overall health.  They will use this experience as a driving force to help other students at school make better decisions as well.  This will allow students to experience a real-life situation where they have a tangible influence on others’ lives. 

In addition, if students improve their knowledge of nutrition, this will not only lead to better food choices, but they will spread this knowledge to others around them, effectively transferring this knowledge to their community.  As students make these positive changes in their lives, they will strive to make the same positive changes in others and even possibly choose careers that will support the development of this desire to become more nutritionally aware. 

The Essential Question
  • How can we improve our school lunches?
  • What are the nutritional facts of the foods we eat?
  • What makes something nutritious?
Justification for Selection of Content

The 7th grade common core standards reveal that ratios, rates, and proportions are an extremely important part of the state standards for the entire 7th grade curriculum. It is used as the backbone for algebraic concepts which builds on previous knowledge from lower grades.  

The Challenge
Use ratios, rates, and proportional relationships to convince students at Delhi Middle School to choose more nutritious snacks with a poster.

The Hook
Students will be presented with information about nutrition and childhood obesity and complete an Eat This, Not That activity.

Teacher's Guiding Questions
  • How can we improve the nutrition of our school lunches?
  • What kinds of unhealthy choices do students make?
  • How can you compare the nutrition of one food to another food?

  • What are the recommended amounts of calories, carbs, fat, and protein?
  • What math can be used to compare these nutrition facts?
  • How can we tell if more students have decided to snack smarter?
  • What does “% Daily Value” mean on a product label?
ACS (Real world applications; career connections; societal impact)

Applications – This challenge will allow students to apply this information to their real life by comparing nutrition facts and making better choices.

Career – This unit relates to the careers of nutrition, medicine, and chemical engineering.

Societal – This challenge will allow students to connect with their community by sharing their knowledge about nutrition.

Engineering Design Process (EDP)

Students are guided through the entire Engineering Design Process as they complete the Snack Smarter project worksheet.  They will first brainstorm ideas, do research on the nutrition and cost of snack alternatives, refine their search and narrow down to one choice, “implement the solution” by conducting a student survey, refine, and communicate their results with a poster.  

Unit Academic Standard

7.RP.A.1.  Compute unit rates associated with ratios of fractions, including ratios of lengths, areas, and other quantities measured in like or different units.  For example, if a person walks ½ mile in each ¼ hour, compute the unit rate as the complex fraction 1/2/1/4 miles per hour, equivalently 2 miles per hour.

7.RP.3. Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems.  Examples: simple interest, tax, markups and markdowns, gratuities and commissions, fees, percent increase and decrease, percent error.

Unit Activities

Activity 1: All handouts for activity 1 are found on the same document, including the answer keys.  It can be found here, or on the hyperlinks below. The individual handouts can be found by using the document name listed below.

Day 1:

1. Discuss ways to improve the school and lead them to school lunches

2. Watch video on the Heart Attack Grill

3. Bring up nutrition – what do kids buy that they probably shouldn’t (hopefully leading to the big cookie)

4. Present the nutrition of the big cookie and ask if they think they could come up with a better snack – Eat This not That activity:  Using the book Eat This, Not That! Thousands of Simple Food Swaps that Can Save You 10, 20, 30 Pounds--or More!  and a doc cam, display two choices of food and have students write on white boards which choice they think is the better choice.  Keep this book available for students to use during research. 

5. Have students get on Today’s Meet to post guiding questions

6. Have students start brainstorming a snack replacement idea and narrow down to 3 ideas per group

Day 2:

1. Unit Pre-Assessment

Day 3:

1. Complete “Making Comparisons” handout together

2. “Writing Comparison Statements” with group – go over together or finish for homework 

Day 4:

1. 3 Ratios and Rates stations

a. Independent practice: “Ratios and Rates Practice

b. Online practice with ratios

c. Teacher-guided station: “Teacher-Guided Ratios and Rates Station

d. Extensions available: “Ratios and Rates Extensions

Day 5:

1. “Comparing Ratios, Rates, and Fraction” lemonade activity

2. “Ratio Comparison Practice” – finish for homework

Day 6:

1. “Finding Equivalent Ratios” notes

2. “Practice with Scaling Ratios” – finish for homework

Day 7:

1. Comparing ratios, percent, and fractions stations

a. Teacher-guided station: “Comparing Ratios, Percents, and Fractions Teacher-Guided Station

b. Independent practice: “Comparing Ratios, Percents, and Fractions Practice Problems

c. Online practice with comparing ratios

d. Extensions if needed: “Comparing Ratios, Percents, and Fractions Extensions

Activity 2: All handouts for activity 2 are found on the same document, including the answer keys.  It can be found here, or on the hyperlinks below. The individual handouts can be found by using the document name listed below.

Day 8:

1. “Comparing and Scaling Rates” together

2. Finalize snack choice and record nutrition facts, total grams, % daily value, price, cost (how many in each package?) on project handout sheet"

3. “Time, Rate, and Distance with Rates” for homework

Day 9:

1. “Unit Rates” notes together

2. Figure out unit rates for project (cost per serving, grams of protein, carbs, and fat per gram of serving) on project handout

Day 10:

1. Comparing and scaling rates stations

a. Independent practice: “Comparing and Scaling Rates Practice”

b. Teacher-guided station: “Comparing and Scaling Rates Teacher-Guided Station

c. Online practice with scaling rates

Activity 3: All handouts for activity 3 are found on the same document, including the answer keys.  It can be found here, or on the hyperlinks below. The individual handouts can be found by using the document name listed below.

Day 11:

1. “Making Sense of Proportions” notes

2. “Proportions Practice” in class/finish for homework

Day 12:

1. Proportions stations

a. Independent Practice: “Making Sense of Proportions Independent Station Practice”

b. Online practice with proportions

c. Teacher-guided station: “Making Sense of Proportions Teacher Station Practice”

d. Extensions: “Making Sense of Proportions Extensions

Activity 4: All handouts for activity 4 are found on the same document, including the answer keys. It can be found here, or on the hyperlinks below. The individual handouts can be found by using the document name listed below.

Day 13:

1. “Notes on Percents” together

2. “Finding Percents of Nutrition” activity

3. Figure out your percents for homework/in class

Day 14:

1. “Nutrition Facts of a Giant Cookie” together

2. “Percent of Change and Markups & Markdowns” notes

3. “Percent of Change and Markups & Markdowns Practice

4. Plan out surveys with class to administer to entire grade level or school for data on snack choices

Day 15:

1. Poster creation – create posters to display information and convince students to snack smarter.

Day 16:

1. Post-Assessment

Where the CBL and EDP appear in the Unit

Challenge Based Learning and the Engineering Design Process occur throughout the entire unit.  Students will be working on planning their “smarter snack” along the way as they learn about ratios, rates, unit rates, proportions, and percents.  On the first day, students will come up with the essential and guiding questions.  After this, they will begin brainstorming their ideas.  As they progress through the unit, they will begin to make calculations to come up with a snack that is mathematically more nutritious than the giant cookie.  At the end of the unit, students will create poster to convince other students to choose their snack over the cookie.

  • The relationship within the ratios is computed by subtracting one term from another, and then the difference is applied to the second ratio
  • The sum of the two numbers in one ratio should be equal to the sum of the two numbers in the equivalent ratio
  • “Magical Doubling” Method: Doubling (when doubling is inappropriate) one of the data of a problem in order to find an answer
  • Inappropriately combining multiplication and addition to reach the answer
  • The percent sign to the right of the numeral can be replaced by a decimal point to the left of the numeral; correctly applied 50% to 0.55 and incorrectly applied to 110% to 0.110
  • Without knowing which operation to perform, divide if the quotient is an integer or otherwise multiply
  • Students' strong part-whole notion of percent can lead to a serious misconception, making percents greater than 100 counterintuitive, since a part cannot exceed the whole
  • Students translate percent symbol as hundredths, a quantity out of a hundred, per hundred, etc. This translation does not encourage students to think about relationships
  • Students tend to ignore the percent sign completely, as if it had no significance whatsoever. Many of the students drop the percent sign and then reinsert it at will anywhere within the problem, making no distinction between 1/2 and 1/2% or 1/100 and 1/100% 
Additional Resources
Pre-unit Assessment
Post-Unit Assessment
Results: Evidence of Growth in Student Learning

Standards that would be used for a high school unit: 

  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSA-CED.A.1 Create equations and inequalities in one variable and use them to solve problems. Include equations arising from linear and quadratic functions, and simple rational and exponential functions.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSA-CED.A.2 Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.

Activities that might accompany the unit for a higher level are activities that take the notion of proportions on to creating equations for proportional relationships as well as the graphs and tables that go with them.  Teachers could also go more in-depth with nutrition and incorporate biology into the unit material.

My original unit had to be changed at the last minute.  The students were supposed to convince other students not to eat the big cookie at lunch, but it was removed from the menu over the summer.  The unit did not have the consistency that it would have had if they were all convincing other students to not eat the same thing.