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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Death and Statistics

I asked for the statistics class this year.  I wasn't sure I would get it, but I figured what the heck and also thought that it would be fun.

So far so good...

I was looking at a news site this evening and came across a neat article in which there is a widget which allows you to choose a year (there are about a dozen given) and it will predict how you would have died had you lived in that year. Death in History

After looking through and seeing what would come up for each of the years, I got to thinking that this would be a great lesson to tie in cross curriculurally with the Social Studies department.  (of course, doing so would require holding out on using this idea until an appropriate point in the other class arose)

It seems to me that the choices are most likely generated using a weighted system related in some way to the actual death rates for each of the given years.  What I'd like to do is have each of my statistics students use the widget 10-20 times for a particular year, pool their data (they work in groups) and then using that data see if they could predict what the actual rates were relating to reasons for mortality for each year.

I don't know if I'll wait for a History teacher for the tie in, and I can already see the students just wanting to google for the causes of death for the given year, but perhaps if they try to end run around me like that I can challenge them to figure out how the widget is accomplishing what it is doing.

Regardless I anticipate some interesting discussion surrounding the topic.

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