I finally had the chance to do a math field study! To celebrate election day and tie into my Is Democracy Fair? probability unit, last Tuesday we held a chocolate chip cookie election at school.
One of our parents was elected to state office in Massachusetts, so he and a colleague who makes political ads came as guest speakers. The kids had lots of questions to ask them about political news, gun control legislation, and the most recent election.
In the afternoon, students participated in the cookie election! We had 5 candidates running: 3 home-made chocolate chip cookie recipes, 1 box of Chips Ahoy, and 1 batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. Students were asked to fill out three types of ballots: approval, ordinal (ranking each of the cookies 1st, 2nd, 3rd choice etc.), and cardinal (giving each cookie a score out of 5 for various qualities including roundness, flavor, and edge crispiness). Then the students were put into groups to determine the winner based on all this data.
There were 6 groups who used several different methods, and between them 3 separate winners were chosen. Along the way we did a lot of reflection. We compared this election to real-life elections, and talked about why these other methods aren’t typically used. The oatmeal raisin cookies were definitely brought up several times in conversation.