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Comparing Calories in Fast Food Burgers and Chicken (Grades 5-8)

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Creating Box and Whisker Plots on Calculators

Use the Table of Calories for Burgers and Chicken to complete this activity.

In our culture, fast food is one component of what we eat. This activity will help us gain a better understanding of the varying number of calories when we eat fast food. We will also do a comparison of hamburgers and chicken sandwiches from three leading fast-food restaurants: McDonald’s, Burger King, and Hardee’s.

1. What is the range of calories for the plain hamburgers listed?

2. What is the range of calories for the plain cheeseburgers listed?

3. What is the average number of calories in the 16 hamburger sandwiches listed from McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King?

4. What is the average number of calories in the 6 chicken sandwiches listed from McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King?

A box and whisker plot is a way to represent data. The horizontal axis represents the values for the data. The box represents the middle 50% of the data. In other words, it runs from 25% to 75% of the data and has a vertical line showing the location of 50%. The whiskers extend out from the box and show the range from 0% to 25% and from 75% to 100%.

Example: The data 270, 290, 320, 350, 390, 440, 440, and 640 result in the following box and whisker plot. Since there are 8 pieces of data, the "breaks" fall between data points 2 and 3, 4 and 5, and 6 and 7. The left endpoint is at 270. The left side of the box is at 305, which is halfway between 290 and 305. The center line is at 370, which is halfway between 350 and 390. The right side of the box is at 440 because both numbers are 440. The right endpoint is at 640.

graph

5. Create a box and whisker graph for the calories in the chicken sandwiches listed from McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King.

(The data 350,440,480,500,550, and 710 result in the following box and whisker plot. This can be done by hand or with the help of the graphing calculator. By hand, have student arrange data in order from lowest to highest. Since there are 6 pieces of data, the middle value is between the middle two pieces of data, 480 and 500. So the middle bar is at 490. Since there are three values to the left of the middle value the left endpoint is at 350 and the left side of the box is at the middle piece of data, or 440. Similarly, the right side of the box is at 550, and the right endpoint is 710.)

graph

6. Create a box and whisker graph for the calories in the 16 hamburger sandwiches listed from McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and Burger King.

(There are 16 pieces of data, so 4 values are represented in each section. The left endpoint is at 260, the left side of the box is at 325, the middle bar is at 510, the right side of the box is at 605, and the right end point is at 960.)

graph

7. Compare the two graphs using the same scale on the horizontal axis. What can you say about the calories in chicken and hamburger sandwiches?

(The following graph shows chicken (on top) as compared with hamburger sandwiches. Some things students notice may include: their middle values or medians are very close the right whisker for hamburgers is very long because a couple of sandwiches have a lot of calories and you can get a burger that has fewer calories than chicken sandwiches.)

graph

8. Which has fewer calories, chicken sandwiches or hamburger sandwiches? Explain your answer.