This will be a quick post (23 days left of school, has this teacher in a craze to get everything in!). Lots of people asked me about our Tagging Goldfish activity so I wanted to share fast. As much as I love fancy lessons, cool activities, and technology nothing gets 7th graders more into learning than food. This populations and sample activity was the perfect way to grab the kids attention after spring break and get them into statistics and probability mode.
Full credit goes to Harvey’s Homepage for the awesome SMART Board lesson that was the inspiration for the activity and to my amazing co-worker Jennifer Laytham for making the student work along which was the perfect addition.
The directions are pretty clear on the student worksheet but in order to facilitate this activity I give each student pair a brown paper bag filled with a random number of goldfish. Using a small cup they go “fishing” to catch a random number of fish and tag them with food coloring (or sometimes we use magic markers to save on the mess). Once tagged, the students dump their tagged fish back in the bag and shake them around to let the fish go swimming. Next, they go fishing again to catch a number sample and record the number of tagged and total number of fish they caught before releasing them to swim again. They repeat this process three times recording data as they go. Once they have all of their data they add up the number of tagged fish caught and total fish caught before using proportional reasoning to estimate the total number of fish in their bag. After I have checked their math and reasoning I let them dump the bag out to count the actual number of fish in their bag and as an extra review have them find the percent error of their estimate. Of course the kids favorite part is eating the Goldfish after they are done!
My students really enjoyed the real life connection of tagging the goldfish like scientists tag animals in the wild to estimate populations as well. I am sure there are TONS of variations and extensions out there but this was the perfect way for use to get back into learning mode before our last stretch of the school year!