Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The Great Chile Challenge

Manuel Bustamante


This lesson allows students to gather data, create a graph, and interpret information. Students improve vocabulary by practicing graph creation, negotiating ideas and meaning of the graphs created, and communicating those meanings.


The student knows which types of graphs are appropriate for different kinds of data (for example, bar graphs, line, or circle graphs).


-Four different types of Chile salsa
-Tostadas (chips)
-Excel program (Or other graph generating software program)
-Computers and printers
-Student Rating sheet (see associated file)


1-Have bowls filled with salsa and tostadas ready for children to begin the taste test.
2-Software should be loaded onto the computers.
3-Attribute criteria and an example of a completed graph should be handed to students in handout
form and/or placed on a bulletin board.


Note: Students should be familiar with computer use and also know how to use whatever software you chose to use to create the graphs.

1. Review different types of graph structures (pie, bar, line, etc.) and their components (title, labels, key, etc.) Bar graphs work well with this activity.

2. Explain the purpose of this lesson to students from beginning to end. An example of a graph using this activity may be handed to students or placed on a bulletin board for everyone to see. (Note to teacher: You will need to create the example.)

3. Have students pour salsa into bowls. (For classroom management purposes, divide students into groups of 5 or 6. Provide groups with a bowl of each type of the 4 salsas to taste.)

4. Students taste each salsa and rate the following attributes: taste, appearance, hotness, and texture. The ratings can be 1-4 as determined by the teacher.

a) Under 'taste,' a rating of 1 could be, "This tastes awful," while a rating of 4 could be, "Yum, may I have some more?"
b) Under 'hotness', a rating of 1 could be, "I can't even taste the chile," while a rating of 4 could be, "Wow, this is like fire!"
c) Under 'appearance,' a rating of 1 could be, "This does not look like something I want to put in my mouth," while a rating of 4 could be, "This looks like something that could be tasty."
d) Under 'texture,' a rating of 1 could be, "This is chunky,' while a rating of 4 could be, "This is smooth."
(Distribute the criteria to students as well as placing it on a bulletin board for viewing.)

5. On the Student Rating Sheet (see Associated File), each student pencils in the ratings given to each attribute. Provide each student with a rating sheet to complete.

6. Review the criteria for assessment with the students. It is listed on the Student Rating Sheet. Have students transfer the ratings onto an Excel program or other graph-creating program and create graphs. Students may choose the type of graphs they would like to create with their data.

7. Students then display and interpret the graph.

8. Students interpret either orally or in report form which can be done on a word processor.

9. Follow with a class discussion. Discuss each group's graph, including the titles, key, etc. Ask students which graphs display the information most appropriately. Ask them why they chose not to use some graphs they were available on the software. Make sure they understand that different types of graphs are used for different types of data and information.


Assess the graphs and presentations.

A-Students recieve four points when they successfully communicate (orally or in print) the reason(s) for using a particular graph type, communicate (orally or in print) how the graph was created, produce a graph with the appropriate data and labels, and create a report or oral presentation interpreting the graph created.

B-Students receive three points for completing three of the above criteria. The first criteria listed above must be included.

C-Students receive two points for completing two of the above criteria. The first criteria listed above must be included.

Students who are not able to communicate (orally or in print) the reason(s) for using a particular graph type need formative feedback and an additional opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of which type of graph is appropriate for which type of data.

Circulate and formatively assess students as they use the technology tools. Provide assistance for students who are experiencing difficulty and monitor accordingly.


This lesson is very flexible. Teachers and students can modify using relevant foods.

Attached Files

A Student Rating Sheet.     File Size: 23552 bytes (0.023 mb)      File Extension: pdf

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