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Math - Caffeine content of soft drinks

Math Moment

Soft Drink Caffeine Content


Caffeine is a drug found in many soft drinks. It can make kids jumpy or keep them awake. It's not a nutrient.

But different drinks have different amounts of caffeine. Caffeine doses are measured by weight, in milligrams (mg). One milligram is 1/1000 of a gram, which is like saying 1/1000 of the weight of a U.S. dollar bill (I just learned that a dollar bill weighs about a gram!). So it's powerful stuff - a very small amount by weight is enough to have an effect.

So, the math:

To teach kids about milligrams (a metric unit of measurement), let them hold a dollar bill, and then imagine cutting it into 1000 pieces. Tear a tiny scrap off of it and let them feel the weight.

For young kids, you can show them the chart on the kidshealth page (near the bottom) or the Mayo Clinic page and ask them to find the the drinks that have the most caffeine and the least - tthe biggest and smallest numbers. A good way to practice reading and comparing numbers less than 100. You could even let them count out scraps of paper - 35 scraps to represent 35 milligrams.

For older kids, show them the chart at biglearning.org . Ask them to find their favorite drink and estimate how many milligrams of caffeine it contains. That's good practice reading bar graphs.





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