In all honesty, I have probably always liked this project a little more than the kids, but over the past few years I've improved the delivery so that they definitely get into it. My biggest mistake the first year with this was not giving the students an overview of what they were going to do and trying to let the packet speak for itself. That failed... miserably. Now I give an general overview complete with pictures and a discussion of why the lesson is important beforehand and they seem to enjoy and understand it a lot better.
I think one of the reasons I like this project so much is that it actually works. When the kids are consistent and do their calculations correctly, they will hit the center of the target with ease. It's one of the all too rare opportunities that students get to see that the math they did directly affected something in real life.
Some tips for the teacher:
- I generally work the stopwatch for them. I've found myself wincing at how much the kids think the timing is "fine" when they do it on their own. I'll start a countdown out loud, and if I feel like my button presses weren't as good as humanly possible, I'll tell them not to count the trial. Letting them do it on their own (poorly) could I supposed be a "lesson learned" but I feel like after all the calculations they do, they won't realize what exactly went wrong or take such a lesson to heart. It would probably be worthwhile to let your kids try it on their own first, but keep a close eye on the timing aspect.
- Strongly encourage the students to make sure they are shooting consistently before they do official trials, and to start over if their official trials aren't close together. You'd think the bold, caps, and underlining in the description would be enough, but my kids tended to be a bit overconfident and tried to rush through without frequent reminders.
- This project takes me ~2 40 minute classes based on class size and skill level. I'm sure it could be done faster with more space and more student independence.
- Having some backup Skittles might be a good idea in case of allergies or dislikes. (I mean, what fun would it be if they couldn't eat some leftovers?)
I realize that there is a bit of hand holding, some of which could be removed to get kids thinking more on their own (especially if you were to give this to an honors class), but it's mostly to get it to fit within time constraints. As with any lesson or project on here, I encourage you to use and edit this to meet your own needs. Let me know what you come up with or if anything is unclear.