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Name: ____________________________

On Top of Spaghetti
Background: Engineers test materials all the time. To do this they often test smaller models of the real thing. For example instead of testing the fail weight of a steel beam they may test the fail weight of thin tinsel of steel. They can then use a ratio or even a graph to determine the weight that a bridge much larger can hold. The following activity is similar in nature to this testing process. Tools: 1 paper cup with 2 holes punched in it 1 cup full of pennies (100) Uncooked spaghetti (10 pieces) Scotch Tape

Procedure: 1. PREDICT: Predict how much you think each piece of spaghetti will be able to hold 2. Thread a piece of spaghetti through the holes in the cup. 3. One person will suspend the cup by placing each index finger about one inch in from the ends of the spaghetti. 4. Another student will carefully add pennies to the cup, one at a time, until the spaghetti breaks. 5. Take two new pieces of spaghetti. Tape each end together with scotch tape and then place it through the cups. (X) Independent Variable # of spaghetti
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10


(Y) Dependent Variable # of pennies

6. Record on the data table below 7. Suspend the bridge again as before and begin adding the pennies. 8. Repeat this until you have tested 10 pieces of spaghetti. 9. Graph the results. Our spaghetti pieces will represent our x data and the pennies will represent the y data. Go to the website Click on the XY Graph. On the right hand side there is a data tab. Click on it and you can enter your coordinate points. You can also label the axis, give your graph a title, and put your names where it says source. When you are done you can preview your graph to answer the questions below. I would like a copy of your graph, so email it to me at If you have any questions or get stuck make sure you ask for help!!!! 10. Looking at your graphed points do they seem to fall on a straight line or a curved one? 11. Which kind of function does your graph look like? Is it a linear, quadratic, or exponential? Think about the types of function activity as a reference. 11. When you had 4 pieces of spaghetti how many pennies could this hold? 12. When you had 5 pieces of spaghetti how many pennies could this hold? 13. So with each new piece of spaghetti how many more pennies could you hold? 14. About how many more pennies are required to break a bridge each time another piece of spaghetti was added? Can you tell this from your graph? 15. Use your graph to predict how many pennies would be needed before a bridge of 20 pieces of spaghetti would break. Do you think this seems correct? Why? 16. Describe in words how to determine the number of pennies needed to break a bridge if you know the number of pieces of spaghetti. 17. Translate your words above to an equation that could be used to determine the number of pennies (y) needed if you know the number of spaghetti pieces (x). 18. When you are dealing with data, graphs do not always look perfect. If you calculate the equations of the functions by hand, they can be time consuming and difficult. If you want to find the equation of your function you can use a regression calculator online and it will do all of the work for you! If you decided that your graph looked like a quadratic function, go to the website You can type in your data points and get the equation. If you decided that your graph looked like a linear or exponential function, go to the website and enter your data points. If you have any trouble, ask for help! Once you have the equation of your function write it down and graph it on your iPad. Does the equation match the original graph that you made? Why or why not?