Q&A #220

Elementary school Math Day suggestions

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From: Marielouise (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jun 06, 1998 at 14:17:30
Subject: Re: Elementary school Math Day suggestions

Cemeteries have headstones that generally give the date of birth as well as
the date of death of the individuals. One algebra student who was also doing
some statistics designed a project for herself in which she recorded the
months of birth and death from a headstone. For example, born: February and
died: April.    
She would assign that piece of data +2 since April was two months past
February. For born: February and died: October, she would assign a -4, since
 October was four months before February. She then arranged all of the
numbers in a histogram, found the mean, and drew some conclusions. She found
that 50% of the tombstones had data that showed the person to have died
within two months of his or her birth month.   

A friend of hers accompanied her to the cemetery and looked at the lifespan
of women vs. men who were married to each other. The cemetery was not a
historic cemetery but it had graves from the late 1800's to the  present
time. She found as the year of death of the husband progressed more toward
the present that the life span of women increased. This was a conclusion that
you might expect, but the young woman verified it. 

Rather than compare husbands' lifespans to their wives', you might have
children randomly select 25 graves of men or of women and do a data spread of
their lifespans. In a historic cemetery you might find out for a man, how
many of his children predeceased him, and what would be the probability if
you took only those who died prior to 1920 or some other date.

Having children work with a partner collecting the data might make them enjoy 
their day more.

 - Marielouise, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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