Suppose there was one of six prizes inside your favorite box of cereal. Perhaps it's a pen, a plastic movie character, or a picture card. How many boxes of cereal would you expect to have to buy, to get all six prizes?

It is not practical to go to the store and buy all that cereal at once. Suppose you got together with your friends and after a combined purchase of 8 boxes you do not yet have all six prizes. Should you be surprised? What if you don't have them all after 10, or 15, or 20 boxes? How many boxes do you think that it should take to get all six?

Can you think of a way to model this problem without buying any cereal?

Interested in the mathematics of the cereal box problem?
Check out the following article by Jesse "Jay" Wilkins, Wilkins, J. L. M. (1999).
The cereal box problem revisited . School Science and Mathematics, 99(3), 117-123.
Click on the title to download the article in Adobe Acrobat format.

Special thanks to School Science and Mathematics, for allowing us to distrubute the article in this manner.