Olympic Display

3.MD.7     3.OA.5     4.NBT.5

Act 1

Show the Picture

Olympic Cola Display

Ask students what they notice about the picture.  Write down their observations.

Ask students what they wonder or what they are curious about.  Record their curiosities and questions.

Possible questions:

How many 12-packs of soda are there in the display?

How many cans of soda are in the display?

Write an estimate.

Write an estimate that you know is too high.  Write an estimate that you know is too low.


Act 2

Give students a copy of the student version of the display:





Act 3

Share solutions and strategies.  Compare strategies and results.

How reasonable was your estimate?

What might you do differently next time?

What worked well for you this time?

olympic-cola-display-Act 3 updated 2-08-18




    1. Jason,
      I uploaded an updated version of the documents in both word and pdf. Please let me know if you have any further issues. Also, please share how the lesson goes. I’d love to hear about your results!


  1. You’re welcome. Sounds like you’re building a passion for math in your students. Keep it up. And please share more of the work you do with your students. Maybe start a blog of your own? 🙂

  2. I’m planning on doing this math task in the AM! Also starting to work toward inquiry in mathematics…how do you view inquiry in math versus inquiry in science? I am BRAND new to true inquiry so I would love to discuss this with you.

    Also, I have written a couple of pretty neat (if I do say so myself) math tasks…do you give constructive criticism?

    1. Tamara,
      Great. Please share the results of your lesson. I’d love to hear how it goes.

      Inquiry in science seems built in. We’re asked to notice and make observations and question in science as early as kindergarten. That doesn’t seem to happen in math, unfortunately. I think it can be just as powerful, but it requires an instructional shift toward a more student centered approach and away from a teacher centered approach. This can be scary because we’re asking teachers to give up control. I could go on forever with this, but that’s a start. We can continue this conversation via twitter and we’ll probably get input from many others engaged in inquiry!

      I’d love to see your work. You can send it to me via email. Just click contact me on my website. Or throw it out on twitter and tag me: @mikewiernicki. Looking forward to continuing the conversation.

  3. I may be missing something obvious but is the answer here? I want to set this for homework but ill need to have the answer ready! Thanks

  4. Hey Hannah. Thanks for the question. The third act/solution is now in the works. In the mean time, I just did it again and got 386 12 packs. Also, this task was designed more as a learning task, for students to collaborate and develop strategies for multiplying larger numbers. I’d love to know how you will use this for homework, so I can share with other teachers. Thanks.

  5. Hey Chirstina,
    Great question. It prompted me to take another look at the solution and the solution posted is off by 4. I’ve fixed it now. Your solution is off by exactly 20 and this is pretty common. I made the same mistake at first! On the 7th and 9th rows from the bottom, there are ten12-packs of soda that have been turned so the long rectangular face of the box is toward the camera rather than the square face. There are 2 more 12-packs behind each of these “reoriented” 12-packs. 2 more of these multiplied 10 times gives the 20 that you’re missing.

    I gave you the solution which is something I wouldn’t do with students. The opportunity for students to engage in finding out where the “missing” 12 packs are is too important. I’d love to see your students’ work if you’re willing to share. Thanks again for the comment.


  6. Hello,

    In your solution you have 367 6 packs of soda, but they are 12 packs right? So shouldn’t the answer of how many cans of soda be 367 x 12 and not 6?

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