Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Mass of a Penny

Bill Hilliard
Collier County Schools


Students will produce data on the mass of pennies over time, plot the data using a bar graph and thereby, discover evidence for a historical event in the minting of coins.


-A collection of at least 1,000 pennies with mint dates from the seventies, eighties, and nineties
-Laboratory scales
-Excel spreadsheet with graphing functions and
- computers with internet capabilities.


1.The teacher will be sure students are familiar with the basics of Power Point, Exel and internet search in preparation for this lesson

2.The teacher will review the concept of mass with students.


1. Students will be divided into groups of 2-3

2. The teacher will review mass concepts with the students

3. Each group will be given several pennies from each decade and directed to sort the pennies by year of minting.

4. They will then measure the average mass for each year using a platform balance.

5.The results of each student group will be compiled for the whole class and the data entered into an Exel document by the teacher (or students) and displayed graphically, using the standard conventions for graphing data.

6. During the PowerPoint presentation the teacher will collect the data from each group and plot the data for the whole class. Once the pattern emerges students will be asked to offer possible explanations for the abrupt change noted in 1982. Students will be asked to search for an explanation of their observations using the internet. Use of the website of the U.S.Mint should lead them to the correct answer.


Standard four-point rubric applied.
Design qualities:
Content and Substance
Organization of Knowledge
Product Focus
Affirmation of Performance
Protection from Adverse Consequences

Technology Standards:
Routinely and efficiently use online information
resources to meet needs for collaboration, research,
publications, communications, and productivity.

Select and apply technology tools for research, data
acquisition, informational analysis, problem-solving, and
decision-making in content learning.


ESE and/or ESOL Strategies:
The written prompt will include definitions of the key terms, will provide for cooperative learning and peer tutoring and individual assistance by teacher where necessary.

Web Links

Web supplement for Mass of a Penny

Attached Files

Power Point Presentation of the lesson     File Extension:  ppt
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