Balanced Diet

Anita Watkins Jo Anne Cornett Susan Pavetto

Class: Pre-algebra, but could be extended to almost any level of math class.

Materials: Chart on nutritional information (to be photocopied and distributed to each group), graphing materials (anything from graph paper to computer software), and calculators (optional).

Goals: The mathematics that is covered in this project involves basic addition, reasoning skills to identify combinations of high/low values, possible ratios, gathering data from a table of values, and creating double bar graphs. The students will work on this project with at least one other person; therefore their group skills can be exercised, and each person will be able to practice their communication skills both in the oral presentation and the required write-up. The students should also gain a better understanding of nutrition. This project will reinforce the five food groups, and students will be able to see a connection between mathematics and health.

Time required: One day in class, two-three days out of class, and one day to present and discuss.

Background: The students should be familiar with basic addition, division to find ratios (if discovered), the ability to read a table of values, and the ability to create a double bar graph. Mastery of the skills above is not necessary because one goal of this project is for students to work on the skills above using a real-life situation.

Setting: Your school cafeteria needs your help in putting together menus with the least amount of calories and the most amount of protein. Each group of students will receive a table consisting of three items from each of the 5 food groups, and a table giving the calorie and protein content per serving of a variety of foods.

Problem: Students will choose 5 balanced meals, meaning one food from each food group. Out of the 5 chosen, each group will find the calorie and protein content for each meal. Students should graph each meal comparing calories and protein (as a double bar graph). From the graph students should pick the "best" meal (meaning lowest amount of calories and highest amount of protein). Students may even find ratios to be helpful in their decision. Each group will present their solutions and justify their choices in an oral presentation. Visual aids should be the graph they made earlier. Clarification of write-up is included in the student resource.

Evaluation: Evaluation will be based upon a rubric, which is on a separate sheet of paper. The evaluation includes two parts, one for the write-up and one for the oral presentation.

Extensions: (1) give students price items and have them stay within a budget., (2) give different combinations of nutritional information, (3) determine the amount of food needed to supply school cafeteria, and (4) determine all possible combinations of meals in the original project.

Balanced Diet

Student Page

The cafeteria wants to make new and improved menus that include foods from the five basic food groups. Listed below are options for the cafeteria to choose from given budget constraints. To continue federal funding, a balanced diet must be offered. A balanced meal consists of one serving of food from each of the five food groups. It is your job to come up with five balanced meals and find the total calories and protein for each of the meals. From these five meals you are to make a double bar graph showing the calorie and protein totals for each meal. Utilizing the graph, decide which of the five meal plans is lowest in calories and highest in protein.

Your group must turn in a written summary of this project. Included in this written summary should be: 1) a description of each meal, 2) calorie and protein totals for each meal, 3) a double bar graph, and 4) your choice of the "best" meal, including a justification of why you chose that meal. Your group will also make an oral presentation to the class. Visual aids should be included in your presentation. The foods that the cafeteria can choose from are indicated in the charts below:

Meats Fruit & Veggies Dairy Grains Fats

Fried chicken breasts Apples Low-fat milk White bread Butter

Broiled pork chops Green beans Skim milk Rice Margarine

Roasted turkey French fries Chocolate milk Chocolate chip cookies Mayonnaise

Student Evaluation: Your group will be evaluated in the following areas.



1. completeness 0 1 2 3

2. use correct figures 0 1 2 3

3. tally correctly 0 1 2 3

4. bar graph

a. complete 0 1 2 3

b. reflects data 0 1 2 3

Writing skills

1. sequential & logical 0 1 2 3

2. followed guidelines 0 1 2 3


1. reasonable 0 1 2 3

2. justified 0 1 2 3

Oral presentation

1. delivery 0 1 2 3

2. explanation 0 1 2 3

3. visual aids 0 1 2 3

Funded in part by the National Science Foundation and Indiana University 1995