10-15 contact hours
One important application of learning to graph a line comes in the form of a statistical projection, which is using a set of data to make predictions about future events. Statistical projections are used widely in many different arenas, from predicting the next president of the United States to finding out who might enjoy a new flavor of soda.
In the What Will They Think? project, students use their understanding of graphing to make predictions, based on a small set of responses, about how a larger group of people will answer questions about ideas for new food products. The class conducts a survey of themselves, then larger groups of their peers. Based on analysis of the data, students compare the effectiveness of their predictions made by educated guessing, hand-drawn graphs, and computer-generated graphs. In the final step, students write a report summarizing their analysis, write a letter to a food-product company explaining their ideas and findings, and make a presentation to an audience.
What Inspired the Project?
Ryan was looking for ways to teach his students math through meaningful projects with real-world applications. Like most math teachers, he would often hear students ask during his graphing unit, “When are we ever going to use this?” As a biology major, he had used best fit lines to analyze data that he collected and thought this would be a great way to have kids see a real life application of graphing—and he knew the concept could also be used with market research data. He knew, too, that having a strong technology component would foster greater engagement for his students.