Grades 9-12: Algebra 2 – Exponential Functions M&M Activity


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Content Standards

HSF-LE.B.5 – Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.

HSA-CED.A.2 – Create equations in two or more variables to represent relationships between quantities; graph equations on coordinate axes with labels and scales.

HSF-IF.C.9 – Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).

HSF-BF.A.1 – Write a function that describes a relationship between two quantities.

Standards for Mathematical Practice

MP.1 – Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

MP.2 – Reason abstractly and quantitatively

MP.4 – Model with mathematics

MP.5 – Use appropriate tools strategically

MP.6 – Attend to precision

MP.7 – Look for and make use of structure


This lesson titled “Algebra 2 – Exponential Functions M&M Activity” from Julie Bryniczka¬†has students working with M&M candy to construct graphs of exponential growth and decay. The activity starts with students adding candy based on a certain method, and then finding the percent difference for each trial. Students then use graphing calculators to make a scatter plot of this new data and run an exponential regression. A similar process is repeated for exponential decay. Students are then asked to describe the different parts of an exponential function.


Some of the cautions that should be considered in using this lesson include accommodations. The activity for the lesson is provided, but there is no additional support included for English Language Learners or students with disabilities. Modifications may need to be made by the teacher to fir their classes and students. Teacher resources for the lesson are not provided, just the activity. While this could be used as formative assessment, there are no other sources of assessment included in this lesson.


This activity was chosen for its alignment to the Common Core State Standards as well as rigor. There is a strong focus on the Standards as well as the standards of mathematical practice. The lesson builds conceptual understanding through an engaging application. Concepts learned from this lesson could lead to subsequent lessons on similar concepts.