I also love coming up with new activities. The paper airplane activity is an oldy but goody. I basically revamped it and created teams. When kids entered the class, they had 10 minutes to google/research/YouTube/whatever and build the best airplane they could build. I have never seen kids as absolutely engrossed in anything as they were this. After 10 minutes, I put the kids in groups of 2-4 and gave them a clipboard and data collection sheet. Here is the handout:
Then, we went out to the football and each conducted 10 flights and recorded distance traveled. We used the football field since I have so many kids in stats and I only had access to four long tape measures. Is the data perfect? No, but it works.
One student came up to me and said "Ms. Boles, this is REALLY fun." Which, I counted as a big win in teenager speak. The bigger win, though, is when we returned to the classroom to draw modified boxplots and compare distributions.
Because this group is so competitive, I asked some, in their comparative paragraphs, to argue why their airplane was the best of the group. For one member - this was usually easy - their plane had the largest max. Others, however, had to argue that theirs was the best because it had a smaller spread and was therefore more reliable. Another argument was that one student's minimum flight distance was quite higher than others. Other students had to argue why their plane wasn't the least desirable of the group. Regardless of the argument, the kids really understood the concept, had GREAT comparative paragraphs, and had a great time in math class **faint**.