Title: How Do Your Pennies Grow?

Title: How Do Your Pennies Grow?

Title: How Do Your Pennies Grow?

Developed by Jean Sury and Rhonda Yezak


  1. The students will be presented with the following problem: Which would you rather have, a million dollars or a penny which is doubled every day for a month?
  2. The students will predict which they would rather have, the penny or the million dollars.
  3. The students will createa spreadsheet, which uses a formula, to help them solve the problem.
  4. The students will create a chart of their findings.

Timeline:One to two 45 minute class periods.

Content Area: Math / Grade Level: 4
Microsoft Excel / Technology Focus:
Subject Area - §111.16.13(A, B); §111.16.14(C, D); §111.16.15(A)
Technology Applications - §126.3.1(A, B, E); §126.3.2(A, D); §126.3.7(B); §126.3.10(C); §126.3.11(A)


Before Coming to the Computer Lab

  1. Present the following problem to the students: Which would you rather have at the end of a month, a million dollars or a penny which is doubled every day for a month?
  2. Have each student predict which they would rather have and record the prediction.

In the Computer Lab

Get Started

1.Open Microsoft Excel.

2.Click in cell A1 and type: Penny Prediction.

3.Click in cell B1 and type the student’s name.

4.Press Enter.

5.Go to File > Save as.

6.Navigate to the student’s folder.

7.In the Filename box, highlight Book1 and type PennyStudentName.

8.Click Save.

Format Cells

1.Highlight Column A by clicking on the A at the top of the column.

2.In the Number section, click the Currencyicon .

3.Go to FileSave.

Enter Data and Formulas

1.In cell A2, type .01 and press Enter.

2.In cell A3, type the following formula: =A2*2

3.Press Enter.

4.Click back on cell A3.

5.Hover the mouse over the bottomright corner of the cell until the cursor turns to a blackplus symbol. Click, hold and drag down to cell A31.


Change Column Width

Cells A19 – A31 will have XXXXs in them. This means the column is not wide enough to display the data. To widen the column, follow these steps.

1.Move the cursor to the line between the Column A and Column B letters. The cursor will change to a double black arrow.

2.Double click on the line. The columns should adjust automatically so that all data now shows.

3.Repeat if necessary for column B (all of the student’s name should show).


Create a Chart

1.Highlight cells A2through A31.

2.Click the Insert tab.

3.Click the Column icon and choose the first chart type (Clustered Column; 1st row, 1st choice).

4.In the ChartStyles section, click the More arrow (bottom right of the section).

5.Have students choose a style by clicking on the middle of the desired style.


Resize the Chart

1.Move the cursor over the top left corner of the chart until the cursor changes to a white double arrow.

2.Click and drag up to cell B2 (do not cover up the student’s name).

3.Move the cursor over the bottom right corner of the chart until the cursor changes to a white double arrow.

4.Click and drag down to cell N31.

Add Titles

1.In the ChartTools ribbon at the top, click the Layout tab.

2.Click the ChartTitle icon and choose CenteredOverlayTitle.

3.Type PennyPredictionand press Enter.

4.Click the AxisTitles icon.

5.Choose PrimaryHorizontalAxisTitleTitleBelowAxis.

6.Type Day and press Enter.

7.Click the AxisTitles icon again.

8.Choose Primary Vertical Axis TitleRotated Title.

9.Type Amount and press Enter.


Format Chart

1.Click on the chart title: Penny Prediction.

2.Format the title as follows:

1)Have students select a different Font style.

2)Have students select a FontSize of at least 18.

3)Have students select a FontColor to match the color of their columns.

3.Double click on a blank white spot in the upper left corner of the chart.

4.Make sure Fill is selected and choose PatternFill.

5.Make the following choices:

1)Choose a dark color for the ForegroundColor.

2)Choose white for the BackgroundColor.

3)Choose one of the very light pattern choices.

4)Click Close.


Remove Legend and Change Scale

  1. Click the Legend icon and choose None.
  2. On the chart, find the $6,000,000.00 number and double click on it.
  3. In the AxisOptions section, change the Maximum choice to Fixed.
  4. In the Maximum box, replace the 6.0E6 with 5.4E6.
  1. Click Close.
  2. Save.

Sum Function (OPTIONAL)

1.Click in cell A32.

2.On the Home tab, click the AutoSum icon (far right on upper toolbar).

*The following should appear in cell A32 - =SUM(A2:A31)

3.Press Enter.


Page Layout

1.Click on a blank cell in the worksheet (example: C2).

2.Click the PageLayout tab.

3.Select MarginsNarrow.

4.Select OrientationLandscape.

5.Go to FilePrint.

6.Look at the bottom of the Print Preview window and make sure it shows 1 of 1.

7.If correct, choose the desired printer and click OK.


Prediction answer

Printed chart

Modifications: Allowmore time. Work in pairs.
Have students analyze the chart to answer questions such as:
What day can you begin to see large increases in the amount of money?
What day had the biggest increase in the amount of money?
Have students create a line chart using the spreadsheet

Skills: Spreadsheet

Manage a spreadsheet / 
the skills utilized in the project
Create a new file / I / X
Identify parts of spreadsheet / I / X
Print a worksheet / I / X
Enter/Edit Data
Enter and edit data / I / X
Delete data / I / (optional)
Performing Calculations
Create a simple formula / I / X
Use Sum function / I / (optional)
Format Data
Change Column width/row height / I / X
Charting Data
Create a chart / I / X
Print a chart / I / X
Select the type of chart / I / X
Add titles / I / X
Add a legend / I / X
Choose data labels / I / X
Change font, size, and style of text / I / X
Change pattern/color of chart background / I / X
Change the pattern color of a series / I / X