I have had this measure of central tendency activity in my “things to try folder” for years, and today I am kicking myself for not using it sooner! The students have been learning about probability and statistics so I decided to try this with our measure of central tendency lesson. Today, I had the students create an air-O-plane that would launch from the end of a straw. The materials they use were paper, scissors, and tape. I also gave the students a straw.

Next, the students were given three minutes to build an Air-O-Plane with their materials. They were told to create an Air-O-Plane that would travel the furthest of all the Air-O-Planes!

Several students made a traditional airplane only to find that they could not launch it with a straw. Other students created an Air-O-Plane that looked like the one below. After our first “test”, most of the Air-O-Planes looked like this one because it went the furthest.

I lined the floor with blue painters tape and marked the tape with 12″ intervals. As each student launched their Air-O-Plane, a student helper recorded the data on the board.

The Air-O-Planes were left on the floor as the students returned to their seats to find the mean, median, mode and range from the data on the board. Once the students had calculated this information, we discussed the planes that were on the floor. How did the planes on the floor relate to their calculations? Students could see what they were calculating and it really increased their understanding of mean, median, mode, and range!

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