Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Technology vs. Nontechnology

Carol Houck


Students determine the range, mean, median and mode using a computer spreadsheet. An identical set of calculations is done without using a computer. The results of each method are compared.


Interprets data that has been collected, organized, and displayed in charts, tables, plots.

Calculates measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode)and dispersion (range, standard deviation, and varience) for complex sets of data and determines the most meaningful measure to describe the data.

Applies technology in problem solving activities, as they relate to production.


-Computers with spreadsheet program
-Measuring tools such as yardsticks or measuring tapes.


Computers must be available. Have a spreadsheet program available which allows for the calculations of mode, mean and median.


-Students will compare the time needed to complete the mathematical operations using the computer to the time needed without, and discuss pros and cons of computer technology. Answers may include the fact that while the computer is faster, it is not obvious how the calculations are being done, or what is involved in determining the final answer.

-Students will analyze the cost efficiency of computers in the workplace. Answers may include the fact that more work may be done in less time with the use of computer technology.

-Students will demonstrate other types of calculations that might be best done by a computer. Answers may include almost any form of calculation including the determination of student grades, or credit card interest rates.

Very large super computers are constantly working to solve problems with very large or very small numbers. Some computers are currently attempting to determine the limits of infinity. Regardless of the problem being solved, all computers operate on the same principles, and all computers perform calculations the same way. No form of artificial intelligence currently exists in the computer realm. Even the computers that play chess solve the problems like math problems; this is considered a repetitive calculation. Ultimately, computers simply speed up and extend our ability to collect, sort ,and analyze data, prepare research reports, and share data and ideas with others.

1. Sort students into rank order by height (tall to short). As a class, predict the average height of this population.

2. Divide the class into groups of 3-4. Each group will receive a time sheet to log the time spent on data collection and their calculations of the mean, median and mode. Half the class will be directed to use the computers and the other half will solve problems manually. The time sheets will be utilized to show the efficiency of computer technology.

3. Have each group measure the height of all group members in centimeters. Inform them that they must keep track of the time necessary to complete this operation.

4. Have students record their group's height data on a master sheet that the entire class can use in the calculations.

5. Have half of the class calculate the mode, median and mean of the class data using a computer spreadsheet. Tell them that they must keep track of the time necessary to complete this operation.

6. Have the other half of the class calculate the mode, median and mean of the class data without using a computer spreadsheet

7. On a master sheet record the values received by each group as well as the time necessary for each group to determine these values.

8. Analyze the results.


Test questions may include:
1. Based on class results, technology, for example the use of a computer, is helpful in analyzing large samples of data because:
a. collecting data is much faster with computer technology.
b. collecting data is much faster without the use of computer technology.
c. repetitive calculations may be done more quickly using computer technology.
d. repetitive calculations may be done more quickly without using computer technology.

( The answer is c. The computer is efficient at doing repetitive calculations.}

2. Based on class results, which of the following would be better done using computer technology:
a. measuring the length of many types of insects?
b. determining the mass of different rock samples?
c. measuring the volume of water in different fruit samples?
d. determining the density of different types of soils?

(The answer is d. Density is the only value that is calculated and not directly measured.)

3. Based on class results, it is obvious that computer technology is useful in today's society because:
a. it allows us to measure distances more easily.
b. it allows us to spend more time on other tasks.
c. it allows us to do calculations that would otherwise be impossible by hand.
d. it allows us to spend more time doing repetitive calculations.

{The answer is b. The computer gives us more time to do other things.}

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