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Vampire Lesson Plan: Do Vampires Really Exist?

This Halloween, have students make their own decision whether or not vampires are real with this lesson plan provided by Microsoft*. 

"Do Vampires Really Exist?" uses mathematics and computer tools to "identify and extend a number pattern into very large values, create and interpret a graph, and compare a math model with real-world statistics."

Teachers can use Microsoft Excel or can do this project manually with the class, or on their own for a bulletin board in the classroom. 

Here's how to start, according to the lesson plan from Microsoft:

  1. Open up a new Excel sheet with the following headings and formatting Microsoft Excel screenshot
  2. Open up a window to http://www.census.gov/population/international.
  3. Ask students what they know about vampires from movies, stories, and TV shows.
  4. Tell students they can use mathematics to prove if vampires exist and write the following assumptions on the board:
  • One vampire does exist
  • That vampire must suck one person's blood each week to survive
  • Once a person is bitten by a vampire, he or she becomes a vampire. 
  1. Have students write the statistics for Week 0 as listed above (week 0, 0 people bitten, 1 total vampire). With the class, fill out the excel sheet for Week 1 (1 person bitten, two total vampires.) Tell children they can fill out the rest by breaking into groups. 

"Is math powerful enough to keep vampires away? Find out as you and your partner finish building the spreadsheet model your teacher started. What you discover may be shocking!"

Microsoft provides teachers four steps for students to complete before they come to a conclusion. 

  • Step A: "Bites Per Week": Using the Excel sheet, have students fill in the statistics up to week 8, multiplying by twos for number of people bitten and total number of vampires. Then have them answer the following questions:
  1. If there were 4 vampires at the end of week 2, how many people would get bitten in Week 3? (4). How many vampires would that make total? (8).
  2. How many people would those vampires bite in Week 4, creating how many more of their kind?
  3. Carry it through to Week 8. How many vampires do you end up with? (258).
  • Step B: "Graph Those Vamps": 
  1. Select the data in Column C, click insert and create a chart and look at the data side-by-side. 
  2. What kind of trend does your chart show? Where might the pattern go from here?
  3. Print out data sheet or have it handy for the next step. 
  • Step C: "Formula, Bloody Formula:
  1. Look again at your statistics through Week 8. In math terms, what is the relationship between vampires at the end of one week and the number of people bitten the next? What pattern do you see?
  2. With your partner, create a formula for Columns B and C in Week 9 (that's cell B11 and C11, respectively) that will extend the pattern of Weeks 0-8. Implement your formula, and check to be sure that the pattern continues.
  3. Use Excel's AutoFill feature to complete your worksheet. For Column A, highlight cells A9 and A10, point to the "handle" in the lower right corner of A10, and drag it through A37.
  4. Fill in Column B by using AutoFill to drag the formula through week 35 (cell B37). Fill Column C by dragging the formula in C10 down through C37.
  5. Format your vampire stats by selecting Columns B and C, going to Format, choosing Cells, and selecting Numbers on the list. Type in 0 decimal places, and select Use 1000 separator.
  6. "How many vampires are there at the end of Week 35? If your formulas are correct, you should show 34,359,738,368. Say that number out loud: 34 billion, 359 million, 738 thousand, 368. That's a lot of living dead!"
  • Step D: "Vampire Reality Check": Microsoft asks, "so how does your vampire census match up against the actual world population? Here's how to find out:"
  1. Go to http://www.census.gov/cgi-bin/ipc/popclockw, a site that gives an up-to-the-second projected count of the world's human population by the U.S. Census Bureau's World POPClock. 
  2. What number is showing in bold type? It should be about six billion, give or take a few million. Select this number, go back to your Excel worksheet, and paste it into cell C38. In cell D38, label people on Earth. 

Microsoft then suggests teachers to reconvene the class to discuss what they found.

"According to your mathematical model, how many of the world's people are actually vampires? [Every single one of them -- and then some!]" Microsoft said. "At which point in your chart did the entire population of Planet Earth become vampirized? [Between Weeks 32 and 33]. Could this possibly be true? Congrats! You have just constructed what mathematicians call a "proof by contradiction." 

*This archived lesson plan originally used Excel 97/98 and is now only available through a page at the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine website.

Article by Kassondra Granata EducationWorld Contributor

 

Let us know how this lesson worked in your classroom and if you would recommend any tweaks. Comment below or email [email protected].