What’s the Price of the Cup?


When students learn about a concept by using it in a realistic context, they are more likely to understand and remember what they have learned.  In this activity, students gather data regarding the number of ounces and price of drinks at two fast food restaurants or coffee shops. They represent this data on a scatter plot, and describe how the variables are related. Using a regression model, students calculate the cost of a drink that is 0 ounces, in an attempt to determine the price of an empty cup.  Based on their findings, students explain why an empty cup is not free, and why it costs more at one place than the other.

The task is structured to follow a mathematical modeling cycle, requiring students to identify relevant variables, formulate a model, use the model to answer questions, and interpret their findings considering possible revisions to the model along the way.

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In what ways might you improve or enhance this activity?