How Do You Stack Up?

Robert Foote Walt Disney Magnet School
4140 N. Marine Drive
Chicago IL 60613
(312) 534-5844


Students will estimate the number of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in
a plastic bag.
Students will build stacks of each coin.
Students will find the thickness of a penny, nickel, dime and quarter after
measuring their stacks.
Students will measure to the nearest centimeter using a ruler.
Students will determine how high a stack of $1000 is in pennies, nickels, dimes
and quarters.

Materials needed:

4 plastic bags rulers
486 pennies 250 nickels
470 dimes 73 quarters


Have four volunteers hold up four bags with pennies, nickels, dimes, and
quarters. Have each class member write down on a piece of paper which bag has
the most coins and which has the most money. Then give the bags to different
groups to count. Write the results of each count on the board. Have the group
with the most coins split them in half so each group can have a group of coins.
Next, have each group (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters) predict how many of
each coin they can stack without falling. Write predictions on board and then
let the groups stack. Have students imagine a stack of coins $1000 high. How
high would that stack reach? Give the following statistics as a comparison: A
basketball player is 2 meters(m) tall, the ceiling of most buildings is 4 m, the
height of a 10 story building is 40 m, and the height of the Sears Tower is
440 m. Students may graph each of these and then graph where each stack would
fall. To calculate the thickness of a penny, nickel, dime and quarter, have
students measure their stacks and divide by the number of coins. They will then
have a good approximation of the thickness of each coin.

Performance Assessment:

Using either the measured thicknesses or the standard thickness for each coin,
have students determine how high a stack of 50 pennies, nickels, dimes and
quarters would be.


Page, David and Philip Wagreich. Maneuvers with Nickels and Numbers. Dale
Seymour Publications, 1990.

Return to Physics Index