Math Feed

An apple by any other name ...


... would it taste as sweet?

Well that's what we aimed to find out! A recent thread at 4Real about favorite apples really got my wheels spinning (and my mouth watering!). The Macintosh has always been my hands-down favorite (the apple of my childhood, after all) but I was eager to try this new Honeycrisp I kept hearing about. I thought an apple taste test would be a fun project for the boys, so this weekend, between the farm and the organic market, we bought one of every kind of apple we could find. (There were actually more available but we kept it at 10.)

And yesterday, we washed them, polished them, labeled them and got down to work:


Back row, left to right: Golden Delicious, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Red Delicious. Front row left to right: Fuji, Cortland, Macintosh, Macoun and Gala.

Our afternoon apple lab, quite scientific you know. :)


I found a neat apple graph worksheet here; it had exactly 10 columns. Once we were all set up, I began by slicing the first apple and each of us commenced testing.

We observed coloring inside and out, and checked for a good "apple-y" smell. (See, I told you this was scientific, lol.)


We then checked for texture (mushy or crisp), ascertained flavor (sweet or tart), and appraised outer skin characteristics (I was the only one who ate the skin, of course).


I scribbled down everything that the boys said (and I thought) about the apples, and we gave each variety a score between 1 and 5. It was quickly apparent we needed to give individual scores rather than a concensus however, so we averaged the scores for each apple at the end.


And guess which apple won? Well, please see our results below ...

Our taste test gave us much food for thought and much material for the compost pile!


Oh yes, and then later there was this ... Apple-Cranberry Crisp!


Farm fresh apples, local cranberries and lots of cinnamon-oaty goodness on top! This, by the way, is a recipe from Susan Branch's Autumn Book. Very easy to make and scrumptious with my new favorite ice cream. :)

Oh, yes, the results!

*Our Apple Taste Test Results (Varietal/Score/Remarks)*

Golden Delicious: 3 ~ "Kinda sour." "Firm and crunchy." "Sweet smell."

Honeycrisp: 2.6 ~ "Different." "Cereal-taste." "Juicy."

Granny Smith: 3 ~ "Hey, no smell!" "Green inside and out." "A little sour!"

Jonagold: 3.75 ~ "Meadowy." "Perfumey." "Bitter skin."

Red Delicious: 3 ~ "Mushy." "Bland." "Chewy skin." "Quite good!"

Gala: 4 ~ "No smell." "Kinda sour." "One of the best apples ever!"

Macoun: 4.83 ~ "Yummy." "Crisp." "Perfect!"

Macintosh: 4.6 ~ "Tastes like Fall!" "A bit tart." "Hard in a good way."

Cortland: 4.6 ~ "Nice smell." "Sparkly and white inside!" "Soft."

Fuji: 4.33 ~ "Golden flesh." "Very sweet!" "Very bland!" "Lovable!"

So there you have it folks: the Macoun took top honors! If you have a moment, let us know what your favorite apple is ... and if you're not sure, then a taste-test of your own is in order! 

Set Your Alarms:

If you want to be present - mentally, anyway - for a unique numerical moment that won't come our way again for another century:

02:03:04 on 05/06/07

Full story here.

All righty then - how about some neat mathematical ideas for the kids on this interesting occasion? A look at numerical patterns in nature, perhaps? (Fibonacci, anyone?)

Here's a quote from the article linked above:

"There are numerical patterns in nature all around us," says Edward Burger, who teaches mathematics at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. "Some are more significant and some are more beautiful than others. And this one is a silly one."

Silly, maybe, but kind of cool!

And this reminds me, though I'm not sure why - maybe just early morning hyper-caffeinated free-association here - of a book we read last year that was a wonderful supplement to our math and history studies:

Now, I'm not a real math person (English major here!) so anytime I can link math with other subjects like literature, history, nature, science - it's a bonus for me.

Other fun mathematical books:

Bookworm (6th grade) liked these very much:

Lots of great math ideas here:

I'm ordering this one today:

I'd love to hear about your favorite math resources! Please leave a comment if you have a resource or activity idea to share.

And in the meantime, have a fabulous weekend, my friends!

Candy Math & Pumpkin Science

What to do with all your Halloween candy? (Other than eat it, of course!)

  • How about a Venn Diagram made with all those wrappers?
  • If you're not keen to eat all that candy at once, you might try using it up in some Leftover Halloween Candy Recipes ...
  • Estimate which candy was the most popular this year. We are guessing KitKats, but we'll need to confirm with solid data - after lunch! ;)
  • Perform a "Taste Test" and graph your results. Who likes which candy the best? Poll your friends, family and Dad's co-workers!

And what to do with the leftover pumpkin?

Well, you could add it to your compost pile, or you could - if you are brave enough - try Pumpkin Petri Dishes!

Have a fun day!

Update: Crackerjack just came up with an impromptu science experiment!

He wondered if his small Hershey bar would melt outside in the sun, and if so how long it would take.

So we thought for a moment. What phenomenon occurs outside that might aid in the melting? In other words, where should we put the candy bar? A sunny or shady spoty? Why, in the sun, of course!

Next we discussed the concept of direction - that is, which side of the house should we place it on? Would southern or northern exposure provide the most heat? Our guess was southern!

We also gave pause to consider another temperature factor. I asked CJ what else outside would make it hot or cold and he answered, "Air!" We talked about how it is no longer summer and the air at this time of year is cool, if not cold. Will the cool November air play some part in this melting experiment? We'll have to see!

Finally, as we set up the project, we tried to think of what kind of background would conduct the most heat towards the chocolate. The boys thought black paper but we also wondered about tin foil. So we tried both!

And here is our chocolate experiment on our sunny south-facing front steps:


I'm not sure what the mailman will think! ;)