Sugar Packets and Proportions Activity

I’m always thinking of how to change the class up a bit so that students stay engaged.


Our school just purchased high tables and stools for the middle hallway.  I “borrowed” them, put only two stools at each table, and let the students pick who their partner would be.  It’s amazing that this small change in the classroom setting brought a lot of excitement.  It was a great setting for this activity.

After reviewing proportions, I showed them Act One of  Dan Meyer’s Three-Act Sugar Packet video.  Since my students love Estimation 180, I had them give an answer that was too high, an answer that was too low, and their guess.  Next, I asked students what information they would need to solve the problem.  The students realized that they needed to know how much sugar is in each packet (4 g) and how much sugar is in the soda bottle (65 g).  I provided the pictures of the nutrition labels for the soda bottle and the sugar packet (Act Two).  I had students set up proportions to solve for the correct number of packets.  Then, I showed the un-edited video (Act Three).

After the video reveal, I used a part of Sarah Hagan’s idea to extend this activity.  I took out 6 – 8 bottles of different beverages.  Each group picked one bottle to start out with.  Using proportions, students had to calculate the number of sugar packets in three different beverages.


I made a handout for the students to work on.  They had to put the name of the beverage on the top of the bottle, the proportion with their work in the middle of the bottle, and the answer with a label at the bottom of the bottle.  Afterwards, students cut out the handout and glued it into their interactive notebook.

Overall, students were engaged for the entire period.  They enjoyed being able pick their seat and partner, and they liked an activity that uses a real-world situation with something they can relate to. What teenager does not drink soda or juice?  Next year, if it falls on a longer period, I want to use some of Sarah Hagan’s other ideas of ranking the beverages from least to greatest according to their sugar content and creating a graph of the data.  So many great ideas, so little time!


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