Four Bead MixTask 136 ... Years 7  10SummaryRatio is the focus of this task and the context is a reallife one. It is possible to purchase packs of mixed beads. Students explore different ratios given a fixed total of beads and hopefully discover that some ratios are 'nice', or 'work' for the total, but others don't. What is special about the ones that work? The task also encourages students to work the other way. That is, given a fixed ratio, what totals of beads could result. 
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IcebergA task is the tip of a learning iceberg. There is always more to a task than is recorded on the card. 
One way students might approach the first question is to count out a set of 3 As, 4 Bs, 5Cs, 6 Ds.
Then count out another and another and so on until the total of 180 is reached. Doing this will almost force them to record something like:
Hopefully students won't have to complete the whole table before realising that it will take 10 bunches to make the total of 180 beads; also, that in doing so, there must be 10 lots of 3 for Bead A, 10 lots of 4 for Bead B, 10 lots of 5 for Bead C and 10 lots of 6 for Bead D. That implies the answer to Question 1(a) is 30:40:50:60. Similarly:
So, although it is true that BeadTheBest could put any number of each of the four beads in the pack to make the total of 180, if there were no ratio involved, it is also true that as soon as a ratio is stated, the numbers involved must sum to a factor of 180.
Question 2 builds the patterns in reverse.
The task is about packing a whole bag of beads, so it is appropriate in each case to also ask the students to record the fraction of each bead in the bag. In 1(a) for example: Bead A = ^{3}/_{18}, Bead B = ^{4}/_{18}, Bead C = ^{5}/_{18}, Bead D = ^{6}/_{18}.
However, it may also be appropriate to choose one of the Bead groups as the whole, for example Bead B. Then in 1(a) there are: 
Whole Class InvestigationTasks are an invitation for two students to work like a mathematician. Tasks can also be modified to become whole class investigations which model how a mathematician works. 
Coloured counters or cubes could substitute for beads to turn this task into a whole class investigation. Consider preparing four bags in four colours for each pair, with each bag containing 20 counters of one colour. If resources won't stretch this far, prepare the same for groups of four. To begin you might like to explore the ideas behind the task using the students. You will need squares of coloured paper from the art room for students to hold. The colours should match the colours of your counters or cubes. Invite 12 students to come to the front and choose any colour. Record the ratio of students with each colour. Repeat with two or three more sets of 12 students. Check that students know what the recordings mean, then begin with a challenge such as: Now I am just going to tell you the ratio. I want you to work out the total number of students who could be standing at the front. You can use your cubes to help you.Continue from here using the explanations above. At this stage, Four Bead Mix does not have a matching lesson on Maths300. However, Calculating Changes members could combine this investigation with Poly Plug, Proportion & Percent. 
Is it in Maths With Attitude?Maths With Attitude is a set of handson learning kits available from Years 310 which structure the use of tasks and whole class investigations into a week by week planner. 
The Four Bead Mix task is an integral part of:
