Students were shown the Fun Factory equipment and invited to try their skills at making play dough licorice sticks by hand themselves and with the Fun Factory machine.
Students were divided into groups and each student made three licorice sticks by hand and three with the Fun Factory.
Student discussion of the appearance of the plots included describing the plots of the handmade masses as a "hill," a "landscape," and "all kinds of shapes next to each other." For the plot of the factory-made masses, the responses from students included: a "tall building," "There are more in the middle," and "They are more the same." Although impressed with the consistency of the masses from the Fun Factory licorice sticks, many of the students were convinced that making the sticks by hand was best, "because you can try harder to make a better shape." Some also thought it would be an advantage because they "might" get more big ones.
Figure 5 shows the process of making the licorice sticks by hand and with the Fun Factory machine in the Grade 3 class.
* Would we expect the same plot if we did our sample of licorice sticks again?
PLAY-DOH FACTORIES Today we made hand-made licorice sticks and factory-made licorice sticks.
* The licorice sticks were different because the factory sticks were lighter and the handmade weren't as perfect because they were longer and fatter.
* Even though the factory made licorice sticks are not the same size, hand made ones have got a larger range.
The idea of "better" being more uniform with less variation was consolidated more confidently in the Grade 3 class than the Grade 1 class, where "better" was more likely to be associated with the creative act of making the licorice sticks by hand and making larger sticks, than with uniformity of measurement.
Using the context of manufacturing play dough licorice sticks 1cm in diameter and 8 cm long, similar to those that could be made by the Fun Factory extruder, the hypothesis for the activity was: "We can make licorice sticks as consistently as the Fun Factory machine." The availability of commercially manufactured licorice sticks led to the further question of the variation in the genuinely manufactured product as well.
The groups created between 20 and 47 licorice sticks by hand, based on their estimates of the diameter and length, weighing each stick and recording the mass on a sticky note.
Data for different groups could be distinguished by the different coloured sticky notes and the consistency of one group for the hand-made sticks stood out immediately, with that group being accused of cheating and weighing their play dough before creating their licorice sticks.
Given the overall variation in the graph of the hand-made licorice sticks, one group (Group F) again was quickly seen as an "outlier" in terms of small variation in its production.