Lesson Plan

How Can They Tell?

Main Subject Area: Science

Duration of Lesson:  60 minutes

Keywords:

• Characteristics
• Coins
• Comparisons
• Dime
• Game Tokens
• Nickel
• Quarter

Brief Description:

Students will compare the characteristics of arcade tokens to those of a circulating U.S. quarter to determine how a video game can tell the difference between the two.

National Standard(s):

• Science as inquiry
• Physical science

• Communication
• Demonstrate competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
• Measurement
• Use grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions

Objectives:

Students will compare the characteristics of arcade tokens to those of a circulating U.S. quarter.

Students will determine how a video game can tell the difference between an arcade token and a circulating quarter.

Materials (online):

Materials (offline):

Quarters

Nickels

Dimes

Balances

Metric rulers

Paper

String

Data tables

Coins Used in Lesson:

Currently circulating U.S. quarters, nickels and dimes

Procedures (online):

Procedures (offline):

1. Begin by asking your students if they’ve ever been to a video arcade, or an amusement park where they needed to put tokens into machines rather than coins. Pose the question to your students, how do you think the machines know that you’re putting in a token rather than money?

2. Students will be divided into groups of two in order to make comparative observations of arcade tokens and currently circulating coins.

3. Students will use a balance to measure the mass of arcade tokens and each of the three U.S. coins in use with this activity. This information will be recorded on a data table.

4. Students will wrap a piece of string around the circumference of the arcade token and the coins being observed. They will then measure the string length to determine the circumference of each piece. This information will also be recorded on the data table.

5. Students will measure the thickness and diameter of the token the coins using a metric ruler. They will then record this information on their data table.

6. Students will also note any unusual characteristics of the token that sets it apart from the American coins (such as holes, flat edges rather than curved, etc.).

7. Each student group will examine the results of their tests and develop a conclusion as to how machines can tell the difference between tokens and currency. They will then develop a written statement to support their conclusion.

Note: Arcade games and vending machines tell the difference between coins from an electromagnetic signature that real coins have. For the purposes of this activity, however, the focus should be more on the scientific reasoning than the correctness of the results.

Assessment / Evaluation:

Students will be evaluated as to their collected data and their written explanation of their conclusion. Visual observation by the teacher can also be made as to group interaction and how the group conducts their measuring with the balances and metric rulers.

Differentiated Learning Options:

Students could compare tokens from different video arcades to see if the conclusion that they reached based on their particular token held true for tokens used in other locations.