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M&Ms help teach WDC math students

Photo by Dana Pavek/WDC Schools WDC senior Jacob Salge separates his M & M candies by color, then calculates the probability of each color as a reduced fraction, decimal and percentage as part of a GRAD Math unit.

Wadena-Deer Creek 12th-grade students in GRAD Math spent this week playing with M&M candies.

WDC High School math teachers Holly Becker and Chelsa Golberg designed the week-long unit as part of the Mathworks program. The unit focuses on probability and statistics, but with a sweet, fun twist. On Tuesday, students each received two bags of M & Ms - one plain and one peanut. Students separated the candies by color and recorded the frequency of each color. Students then calculated probabilities of different scenarios from their data as a reduced fraction, decimal and percentage. At the end of the week, students will transfer their data onto an Excel spreadsheet and will then "eat" their research, by enjoying the M&M candies.

Becker introduced the unit with the fascinating history on how M&M candy was created. She told students M&Ms were first considered in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War when Forrest Mars Sr. saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell of temperate chocolate surrounding the inside, preventing the candies from melting. Mars teamed up with William Murrie, president of Hershey's Chocolate, and began to produce the candies on March 3, 1941.

The name M&M comes from the founders' last names. During World War II, M&Ms were sold exclusively to the military because chocolate was rationed during this time.