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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