Mustard Mayhem!

How many bottles of mustard was used?


No Expectations/Standards Selected
Ontario Alignment By Grade
CCSS Alignment By Grade
CCSS Alignment By Standard

Real World Math Problem – 3 Act Math

Mustard Mayhem Real World Math - Full Tray of Mustard

Recently, while delivering a full-day professional development session for the Middle Years Collaborative Inquiry Project, sandwiches were delivered with condiments for teachers to enjoy during lunch. Students will now be asked to determine how many bottles of mustard were used to feed this group of teachers?


Math Topics Related to this Activity:

  • Volume of a cylinder, and
  • proportional reasoning.

Act 1: Introducing the Task

Mustard Mayhem 3 Act Math Task - Group of Teachers

Setting the stage for the problem, I explained to the students that I was delivering some PD for colleagues the previous day and discussed how many teachers attended. At lunch, our sandwiches arrived…

Mustard Mayhem Real World Math - Full Tray of Mustard

Mustard Mayhem Real World Math - Another Look at the Mustard

I have my students determine how many mustard containers had come in the box prior to teachers eating (50). Following a typical Dan Meyer 3 Act Math Task, students make estimates with respect to how many bottles of mustard they believe were used to fill the mustard containers. Some typical suggestions from Dan Meyer would be to have students make an estimate that they know is too low, too high, and then narrow down to their actual estimate using those two bounds.

Act 2: What Information Do We Need?

Having students think of the information required is a great way to get them thinking and talking with their peers. Here are some of the pieces of information they’ll need:

Diameter of the Top

Mustard Meyhem Real World Math Task - Diameter of the Top of the container

Diameter of the Bottom

Mustard Meyhem Real World Math Task - Diameter of the Bottom of the container

Height of the Container

Mustard Meyhem Real World Math Task - Height of the Mustard Container

French’s Mustard Bottle

Mustard Meyhem Real World Math Task - French's Mustard Container Volume

Act 3: The Solution

Here, ideally I would have an image or video to depict the solution. Unfortunately, this problem was created on the fly with my phone and thus I do not have an act 3 video yet. However, I would suggest that a fun activity could be purchasing some mustard and condiment containers to see how many you can fill with one bottle. From there, you could use proportional reasoning skills to get a fairly accurate prediction to see if their theoretical solutions will come close to the practical.

Here is a sample solution from my class the other day:

Mustard Mayhem 3 Act Math Task Solutions

Mustard Mayhem 3 Act Math Task Solutions Part 2

Download Mustard Mayhem Resources

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Please leave a comment to let me know how this activity worked in your classroom!


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About Kyle Pearce

I’m Kyle Pearce and I am a former high school math teacher. I’m now the K-12 Mathematics Consultant with the Greater Essex County District School Board, where I uncover creative ways to spark curiosity and fuel sense making in mathematics. Read more.


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