Friday, November 9, 2012

Brand Name Paper Towels...Are They Worth It?

“Bounty, The Quicker Picker-upper....Bounty!”

How good are the brand name paper towels really? Do they really hold more liquid than the off-brand paper towels? What is the price difference? What is the unit price difference? Are they worth the investment? Let's examine them and find out.

What You Will Need

  • 1 roll of a name brand paper towel

  • 1 roll of an off-brand paper towel

  • The price paid for both

  • Measuring Cup

  • Kitchen weigh scale

  • Question sheet (see Math Downloads)


Step 1: Demonstrate both types of paper towels (to the class) and have them estimate their cost

Step 2: Provide the actual prices of both types and have your students calculate the difference in price (problem 1 on activity sheet)

Step 3: Have students calculate the percentage difference in price (problem 2 on activity sheet)

Step 4: Pass around both rolls of paper towels around the classroom and have students indicate how many actual number of towel sheets are within the roll. If they are 2-ply have students double the number listed (problem 3 on activity sheet).

Step 5: Have students calculate the unit cost of each brand of paper towel. (problem 4 on activity sheet)

Step 6: Ask which brand of paper towel is a better deal in terms of unit price. (problem 5 on activity sheet)


Step 7: Break the class up into groups. Provide each group a piece of paper towel from both brands.

Step 8: Explain that we are going to see how much water each paper towel can absorb by weighing it.

Step 9: Ask the groups to spread out on the floor (hopefully the floor is not carpet)

Step 10: With your measuring cup, spill the same amount of liquid in two spaces on the floor beside each group (thus, each group will have two spills, each for both paper towels)

Step 11: Have students absorb as much liquid without it dripping from both spills (the towels cannot be dripping as they are walking).

Step 12: When ready have the students bring the (non dripping) paper towel up and weigh it (or bring the scale to them). I would suggest one paper towel at a time.

Step 13: Have the students record the weight in ounces. (problem 6 on activity sheet)

Optional Step 14: After complete, provide the weights of each type of paper towel with no absorption (meaning, using new pieces from the roll, weigh both types of paper towels). Feel free to skip this step if the weight of the paper towel is negligible.

Step 15: What is the difference in weight between both paper towels? What is the percentage difference? (problem 7 on activity sheet)

Step 16: Given the amount difference in price and the difference in absorption which do you think is a better deal? (problem 8 on activity sheet)

After Activity Discussion:

What made you decide on the better deal, the price or the absorption rate or both? Do you think you would change your answer if you owned a day care with lots of spills per day?

Homework Question:

Estimate how many spills you have per month in your household ____. How many rolls of paper towels would it take you to wipe up that many if you used one roll as opposed to the other.


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