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NAME DATE BAND

POP! THAT STANDS FOR POPCORN OPTIMIZATION PROBLEM!
CALCULUS | PACKER COLLEGIATE INSTITUTE

Today! Popcorn! You are going to decide how much popcorn you get based on the size box you create.

The way we’re going to start is by giving each pair of you a sheet of cardstock (216 mms by 279 mms) and a
ruler.

1. You will have three minutes to decide what size square to cut out of each of the four corners. (I will show
you an example before you do this.) The size of this square will determine how much popcorn your box can
hold. To do this, you and your partner are going to use intuition. You aren’t allowed to do any calculations. At
the end of these three minutes, all you will have is a piece of cardstock with four squares drawn on it.

2. When each pair is done, you are going to measure the size of the square in inches using the ruler.

My square has a side length of ____________ mms.

Now cut out the squares, fold up the sides, and tape them together – quickly.
3. Without measuring (but only using the original size of the cardstock – 216 mms by 279 mms – and the side
length you previously measured), come up with the following data:

The height of my box Is ____________ mms

The length of my box is: ____________ mms

The width of my box is: ____________ mms

The volume of my box is ____________ mms

4. Show your final box to Mr. Shah/Mr. James. They will check your calculations. If they are correct, you can fill
your box with popcorn (not overflowing – just to the top!), take a napkin, and go back to your seats and
work on the following…

5. 5. Okay, so you created a box with a particular volume to hold the popcorn. However, how close were you
to the largest possible box you could have created? That’s what you’re going to try to figure out.

(a) If you had the same cardstock (216 mms by 279 mms) and cut out a square with side length of x , and
then folded and taped the box up, what would the following values be?

The height of my box Is ____________ mms

The length of my box is: ____________ mms

The width of my box is: ____________ mms

The volume of my box is ____________________________________ mms

(b) Can x be 140? Can x be 0? Can x be 24? Can x be -17? What are possible values for x ?

I’ll get you started: x must be greater than 0, but also must be less than ________.
(c) Plot your volume function in Desmos. Make sure you get an appropriate window.

Xmin:________________ Xmax:________________

Ymin:________________ Ymax:________________

What does the x-axis represent?

What does the y-axis represent?

Based on this volume function, what is the maximum volume, and what is the side length of the square that
you need to cut to get this maximum volume.

Maximum volume :________________

Side length of square:________________

(d) Now put Desmos away. Use the volume function you came up with and calculus to determine the
maximum volume you can get, and the side length of the square you need to cut to get this maximum
volume. 1

To get you started: Volume(x) =

-b± b2 - 4ac
1 You might need to remember the QF to do this: x =
2a

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