Statistics with Straws


 

Each person in the class gets three or four plastic drinking straws. (Ours were about 8 1/4 inches or 21 cm long, available in packages of 75 for about a dollar.) Students also get a pair of scissors, a ruler, a sheet of paper for recording data, and a TI-83/84 calculator.

 

Your task is to cut each of your straws into three pieces (with two cuts!). The shortest piece should be at least one inch long. Try to make the cuts straight across, and try to make the pieces be of different lengths. Then on your data sheet, record the length of each piece to the nearest millimeter. Give the list to the instructor, who will enter lengths from the whole class into a list on his/her calculator.

 

The cut straws may look something like this:

 

The instructor transfers the class data from his/her calculator to the calculator of each person in the class.

Your task is to prepare a report that describes the distribution of the lengths of the straws, and to formulate your conclusions. You may do this in any way that you want. You may use any calculator programs that you like.


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