Friday Visualization #9 - Visualapolooza

This week I've got a couple of visuals to share... there are just so many good ones out there!  As always, think about how you can share, modify, and get inspired to create your own (and have students create them too)

Halloween Humor
I probably should have shared this a few weeks before Oct 31st.  Loads of data could be collected by students: how much candy? how many houses visited? what was the top candy received? What's the ratio of Reese's to KitKat? And probably much, much more.  Once this data is collected, students could create and compare some interesting visuals.  The visual below takes a slightly different direction and is very clever and, for me, pretty accurate.

visual from FlowingData

There is some nice math that could be done with a simple visual like this... for example, have kids write word problems that would go with this one... I bought 8 pounds of candy, I handed out a tenth of it, how many pounds candy did I eat? Now that I think of it, this could be replicated for quite a few holidays & events.

Top Jobs for Critical Thinkers
We are getting ready to kick off Career Week at my school.  This timely visual (click on it to enlarge) shows the Top Jobs for Critical Thinkers... from the ThinkWatson blog:

We created this fun critical thinking infographic to illustrate the top jobs requiring critical thinking skills. Students, job seekers, and career changers... you've been warned! 



Are you Ready for Some Football?
Sports junkies love their data.  This simple visual is an appealing way to display the tops stats for your favorite players and teams... and where they stand in comparison to their rivals.  Go Redskins.

Famous Logos... simplified
I just thought these were really creative but I'm sure some inventive teacher could do something with these. Even a basic discussion about branding and design might lead somewhere. The one below is simple, check out this page for a few more (and some links to even more)

Friday Visualization #7 - How Much is 160 Acres?

So, the Homestead Act provided settlers with 160 acres of land provided they met a certain criteria.  What does 160 acres look like?

This question recently came up at my school and we found the Planimeter to help provide students with a more concrete visualization of the answer.  The Planimeter uses Google Maps and allows you to mark off an area anywhere in the world.  It will then tell you the acreage for the area you selected.

In class we started off with our school football field.  This was a great starting point since a football field is such a tangible unit of measurement familiar to students (plus, we could see it out of the window of the classroom).  Planimeter determined that our football field was approximately 1.3 acres in area.  Wow!  the homesteaders received 160 acres... so we now had a math happening... how many football fields in 160 acres?

click any image to enlarge

 We then tried out our school's campus... only 34 acres.  Another math happening... how many of our campuses would fit onto a homesteader grant?

Still not 160 acres.  We needed something larger... how about the nearby (and world famous) Tyson's Corner Mall and all of its voluminous parking?

Only 79 acres (and another math happening).  What about Tysons I and Tysons II (conveniently located across the street)

Hey, 160 acres... look at that.  That's a lot of land.  We looked around at a few other Washington, DC landmarks also.  We found that FedEx Field, the home of the Washington Redskins, and all of its parking, is also right around 160 acres.

I liked this activity a lot because:

  • It's visual - I could tell students that 160 acres is about the size of Tyson's Corner, but so much better for them to see it.
  • Its localized - We used references that were familiar to students.  Most of them had been to Tyson's Corner and knew that it was big.  Naturally, using our own school playing fields and campus was also great.  Students were encouraged to draw 160 acres around their own houses to see what that looks like.
  • Students can be involved - with laptops, students can be involved in following along and then trying out their own measurements.  Send students out on an acreage scavenger hunt.
  • It's (potentially) interdisciplinary - While this activity was centered around a Social Studies discussion about homesteaders, it could easily extend to...
    • Math - Loads of math here, conversions from acres to square feet, square meters, perimeter, what percentage larger is FexEx field than our school campus, scientific notation, etc.
    • Technology Education - Evolution of farming equipment as farmers wanted to have larger and larger farms.
    • Social Studies - Map skills and Geography are a no brainer.

Of course, there is more you could do with this, I'm sure.  Give Planimeter a try and remember to share your ideas.

Friday Visualization #6: Whoa! It is Big!

This conversation actually happened*

Mr. Kelly: Africa is big, much bigger than the United States.

Me: Much bigger?  I doubt that.

Mr. Kelly: No, it's because the maps we use distort the actual size, so you think Africa is smaller than it really is.

Me: Prove it

Mr. Kelly:

Me: Whoa!


Africa is big.  Who knew?  Apparently the guys over at Treehugger knew.  You can read more about the visual here.  Also, make sure to click on the HUGE version of this image and make sure you look on the right side of that image (you will have to scroll) for more info and visuals.

Education Ideas:

 If you were using this visual with your students, what kinds of questions could you ask?  What sorts of observations can they make?  What sorts of questions can they generate?  What math is required to create a visual like this?  What about the research skills required to complete this activity? 

Could students create their own maps using other countries?  They could certainly use Area to find a collection of different countries that total the size of Africa (or Asia, or the USA, for that matter).  What about doing conversions from metric to non-metric standards?  There is a lot of geography that could be integrated into an activity like this. 

The point here is that using visuals with students can create a richer learning enviornment, an environment that creates critical thinkers and develops "stickiness"

*Ok, maybe this post was only inspired by a conversation that actually happened.  Mr. Kelly actually used a bunch of words I didn't understand and therefore could not accurately script out. But I would like to thank Mr. Kelly for sharing this with me!

Visualize Your Day

I was looking at NPR's Planet Money blog the other day and they had a link to this post that contained this excellent visual:

This got my brain working... what other ways could we keep track of something and create a similar visual?  I thought it might be interesting if student kept track of their daily activities (not all of them, just a few of the "major" tasks).  I created a "Time Sheet" that kids could use, my sample is here and the template here.  Lots of great math involved in keeping this chart.

Once I had all of the data I needed I created the visual below.  I used PowerPoint to create it since I wanted some "creative" license to make it the way I wanted but you could use any graphing program.

This was a fun activity for me to do and I think it would be fun for students as well.  You could have kids keep track of all sorts of stuff throughout the year (# of pages they read, minutes spent at recess, video game time, # of google searches, Big Macs consumed, etc.) ... once they have tons of data they could create all sorts of personally relevant visuals.

The math involved can be as simple or complicated as you would like.  I think it is important that we keep an eye out for these types of connections... they appear every day.  Making math relevant and interesting for students is important.

Math Happening... Tall and Short

I saw this picture today and thought that a math teacher* could have a lot of fun with it (maybe a bell work activity?)  Just pop it up on the projector and see what students can do with it.  Proportions, percentages, ratios and more... please share your thinking!

* science teachers could probably do something with it as well... or you could have your students see what information they could find out about the two people in this photo... a good test of their Google skills.

Creative Graphing

You know, I love creativity.  I think we need to infuse our teaching with it.  For all you math teachers out there who might teach graphing sometime, think about creative ways to do it.  Here are some ideas...
Accurate Pie Chart

This would be an easy (and fun) one to replicate (with pizza, pies, rice crispy treats, who knows).  Use a digital camera to share if you do.  Speaking of using a digital camera, take a picture and graph right on top of that... you could graph your toes :-)
(285) Length of My Toes, From Ball of Foot to Tip (A Bar Graph) on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

You can even teach graphing (albeit very creatively) through popular songs, poems, stories, pretty much anything where numbers and choices are involved.

made by sftekbear on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

... thanks, Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel.  You can see more of these creative graphs here on flickr.  I guess my point here is that once you start thinking about the creative ways you can get your graphing objective met, you should really GO FOR IT!

Math Time!

There are some excellent math websites out there. I wanted to stay away from the "drill and kill" game sites (you can find those on your own) and look for sites that promoted critical thinking and problem solving skills. Enjoy.

All of these sites will open in a new window.

* Bess may filter these... but they should work from home.