Frozen Code and More Problems

icecreaminsnowIt’s cold in Michigan. We’re expecting record-breaking low temperatures tonight and I just discovered a new gelato place a mile from my house. My husband and I love gelato, but I just can’t do it. So you can imagine how I chuckled reading Dan Meyer’s Frozen Code post. The post relates an actual frozen code policy, in which a gelato chain with roots in the northeast discounts gelato based on the number of degrees below freezing—1% discount for each degree below 32. Tonight, if the temperature drops to the promised -10% F, I could earn a 42% discount! Meyer suggests teachers use the Frozen Code to spur students to translate the code into the language of variables. How would they express the Frozen Code as an equation?

I love this activity, but it would be even more fun (and great problem finding) to challenge students to consider what conditions might impact other businesses. Should hairdressers offer discounts on windy days? How much, and using what metric? How could amusement parks manage rain discounts? What other circumstances might appropriately trigger discounts? Excessive potholes for tire discounts? Road construction in front of a business? Or, alternatively, are there circumstance in which prices should be (or are) raised?

Students could imagine real-world circumstances in which prices might be adjusted and create problems that challenge peers to create appropriate equations. Of course, the creator of each problem must have a ready solution and explanation. While considering the possibilities, read my earlier post on Meyer’s approach to math or click on Meyer’s developing the question link. Be sure to scroll down to see the related posts. Lots of problem finding options!

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