Good Nutrition

Unit Overview
Nutrition Labels
Final Activities
Selected Resources

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Culminating Activities


  • varies by selected topic (see listed items below)

Activity Summary

Topics and ideas are provided for completing the unit with individual and/or small-group projects/reports.


  • To investigate an area of personal interest related to nutrition/health.
  • To determine how mathematics relates to understanding of a chosen nutrition/health topic.
  • To develop reference and resource skills through completing an open-ended project.


Have students work individually or in pairs or small groups to investigate a nutrition/health topic of interest, such as one of those listed below, or another topic that you approve. (You might want to find a fair way of monitoring student projects so that no more than one person/group is investigating the same topic.) Projects are intended to be open-ended, although you will need to provide guidance, such as giving ideas about where students might find resources for their topics (print and audio-visual materials, resource persons, etc.). For example, the Encyclopedia of Associations (check a public or college library) offers contact information for organizations.

Much work may need to be done outside of class, but students will also need class time for planning and other work that can be done in the classroom. (You might also be able to arrange a class visit to the school library.) Perhaps another teacher, such as the health teacher, would be willing to collaborate on the project (or the unit in general), allowing time in her/his class for working on the project and providing guidance to students. You might go on to another mathematics unit (minimizing homework), while students work on their projects outside of class and are given class time periodically for working on their projects. You will probably want to meet with each individual/group one or more times to discuss progress.

Criteria will need to be set for the projects so that students have some guidance in the expectations for their project and for how projects will be assessed. For example, students will need some guidance on how they should incorporate both nutrition and mathematics objectives into their projects (mathematics objectives might include proper use of graphs, percent, formulas/equations, or other defensible mathematics).

You will also need to determine what form the final product will take. Students might turn in a written report. They might also be expected to give an oral presentation (which might include role-playing, a skit, a TV commercial, a rap song, or conducting an activity with the class), create a bulletin board on their findings (at some point in the year), or summarize key information on 1-2 pages (including pertinent graphs, tables, or pictures) for a class book that is bound and available for students to see in their spare time (perhaps make numerous copies-several for the classroom, one for the school library, and one for the public library). You might allow each student or student group to decide how they will share their information with the class (after getting your approval).

Selected Project/Report Topics and Ideas

Books and organizations listed among the resources provided will be useful for many of the following items.
  1. malnutrition/undernutrition/world hunger

  2. nutrition-related disease(s)/disorder(s), such as anemia, anorexia, bulimia, or diabetes

  3. proper dieting (intentional gaining or losing of weight)

  4. healthful snacking

  5. vegetarianism

  6. dietary needs of athletes

  7. dietary needs of pets (or a given pet/animal) [possible resources: see pet food articles in the March 1991 and October 1994 issues of FDA Consumer; request dog food and cat food nutrient profiles from the Pet Food Institute, 1200 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-2401; also see labels on pet foods for actual contents]

  8. nutrition/health needs specific to a certain category of people-adolescents, females, males, babies, etc.

  9. nutrient and health content claims-meaning of labeling terms such as "fat free," "low calorie," etc., which must meet specific (often mathematical) criteria [as one possible resource, see Lesson 3 in the FDA's booklet The New Food Label: There's Something in it for Everybody]

  10. one or more key nutrients not covered in the unit (e.g., cholesterol, sodium, calcium, or iron)

  11. different kinds of fat (saturated, unsaturated, etc.) or of carbohydrates

  12. school lunches (nutrition guidelines for preparing them, etc.)

  13. dietary habits of people of a different culture (or comparing several cultures)-either within or outside of the United States

  14. nutritional comparison by company/brand of a given food (e.g., ice cream-Ben & Jerry's, Dairy Queen, Jiffy Treet, White Mountain Creamery, etc., or grocery store brands)

  15. monitoring one's own diet for a day or week, keeping track of calories and macronutrient percents; evaluating the diet and recommending changes

  16. designing and defending a day's/week's healthful diet, or a healthful menu for a health-conscious restaurant

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Area 10 Mathematics and Technology Professional Development Center
Permission is granted to duplicate these materials for classroom use.

Last updated on 1/30/1999