Video Story Problem – How Much Shampoo?!

In my ever constant, and increasingly obscure, quest to pose real life curiosities and problems that I come across throughout the week, I’ve created a video story problem centered around those tiny little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotions that hotels offer their guests. I was staying at a hotel near the Detroit airport last week while producing some pilot video content for a new Michigan Department of Education grant, and I couldn’t help but wonder just how much shampoo a hotel must go through every year. It’s amazing what you can distract yourself with while sitting in an airport hotel with planes threatening to slam into your room every few minutes.

The question started simply enough, but I decided to add a few extra layers as I became more curious….and yes, despite the bad acting I really was curious about all of the questions posed in this video.

The math questions came easily enough, even if it was a stretch to believe that the hotel would have someone staying in it every single night. What I’m more curious about is the open ended question at the end about the environmental impact the production, distribution, and disposal of all those bottles has. If you were to use this in your classroom, what questions might you ask in addition to the ones I posed?


  1. Your video story problem on shampoo was absolutly fantastic. Not only because the content was interesting made the story problem something students would enjoy, but your delivery of it was the best part. What a creative integration of technology into the lesson! You had asked for other questions that could be asked. One good idea would be to make this a cross-curriculum lesson and focus more on the Language Arts/Writing aspect. You could ask students to propose alternatives to the Hotel for cutting down on waste/consumption. Students could then use their Higher Order Thinking Skills to come up with thier own solutions to the problem of waste such as providing the shampoo, etc. in biodegradable containers.

    1. The cross-curricular, project based approach would be a fantastic way to blend together multiple disciplines, and begin to tackle the Common Core standards in a meaningful way, since they’re cross the typical boundaries placed by our rigid educational structures.

      I like your questions, and if you’re interested, I have a growing collection of them on Vime


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