Data, data, everywhere


As a teacher I am increasingly excited by the availability of real and relevant data for classroom use and the ease with which technology allows us to get it and process it. There are also a number of very powerful data collection tools around too. This extends to the use of iphone/ipod touch apps etc that mean students often have very powerful data loggers in their pockets. In this session the aim is both to show some of the brilliant data sources/collection tools that are out there along with sharing some of the ways they could be used in the classroom with concrete examples and hands on practise for participants. Fruitful participation in this session probably depends on at least some of the participants bringing a laptop and/or a smartphone/ipod etc.

This is a very exciting time to be a mathematics teachers! I think this primarily because of the impact that eveolving technology is having on the art! I honestly believe that technology has transformed mathematics teaching and 100% for the better. With particular reference to the teaching of statistics, this topic has never been quite so exciting to teach. This page is the beginning of a list of brilliant data sources and tools that are available. Each comes with some suggestions and tasks about how they might be used in a classroom.

Session Outline

Collecting data with mobile devices - This is intended as an example of how we might take advantage of students carrying mobile devices around in their pockets. Play with the data collection apps and decide on some questions we could ask of each other.

Having collected the data we will enter the data in to a google form - The aim here is to show just how quickly we can create and share a google form to collect this data and then watch it come in.

 Link to google form we just made

Other ideas with google forms - Just some examples of how this can be used

 Independence day - an example of collecting data to do a chi² test for independance.

 The Birthday Problem form and  Data

 Wisdom of the crowd

TASK - analyse the wisdom of the crowd data and draw some conclusions. Think about the idfferent ways you could split up the population to see if one group guesses better than the other.

Presenting some sources/ideas for secondary data

 Gapminder - Investigate the impact on 'Health and Wealth' during the world wars for different countries.

 Google Public Data - Use one of he featured data sets and explore different representations.

 My life in numbers - Imagine what you might be able to do with these numbers. how could we monitor their growth? Where are the surprises

 World-o-meters - As above

 Google Ngram - Pick different words and compare theier usage over time. what sorts of words should we look at!

 Guardian Datablog - Find a data set that catches your attention and interest!

 CIA WorldFactbook - Try a particular search. What advantages might this have over Gapminder?

 Nation Master

 Significance Magazine 

 Twitter Venn - Try some 2 or 3 word combinations


 Food Files

Particular Examples

Number Ones - An example of a project with real data

TASK - Download the  database Begin to think about what you could do with it? What questions do you think you could investigate? What patterns do you think might lie in this data?

Look at the image for Number Ones at the top of the page - it shows, for each decade, a box and whisker plot for the length of number one singles. Can you say which diagram goes with which decade? solutions

 Football Players

 Testing Benfords Law

 Iraq Body Count (see the video 'Mathematics of War' below)

Data Collection Tools

In addition to some of the wonderful sources of real data out there, there are some awesome tools for actually collecting real data and adding some real ownership to projects.

On the web

 Google forms

 Survey Monkey

Iphone apps


Sound meter

Punch meter

Step counter

GPS trackers

Examples and activities


 Wisdom of the crowd

 British Number ones

 Olympic Circles

 Independence day

 The Birthday Problem

 Predict the future

Articles and videos 

The following is a collection of interesting reads and watches to help students understand the role that real data handling has in society today!

 How Companies learn your secrets

 7 Billion: how did we get so big so fast

 Videos from Hans Rosling at Gapminder 

More databases



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