What Digital Maps Can Tell Us About the American Way

The New York Times discovered this digital map by ARTSBEAT BLOG, which shows the life expectancy deviation across the United States. The life expectancy was averaged for all of the United States, and then averaged for what must be various counties across the United States. This could be useful in many situations in the classroom.

First of all, in math. Students need to be able to find the mean, median, mode and average. This is a great way to show students why. Students can then create their own map. With permission from the principal and the other teachers, a survey can be given about a students average something (it must be a number). For instance, the average number of hours watching tv a day. When the students get the surveys back, they can find the average, and the deviation for each classroom, and draw a map of the school similar to this map of the country.

Another use could be in Economics. I have mentioned before an exercise I witnessed during my student teaching, in which a teacher had the students create lives with chance cards draw periodically with real life situations. If you have time, you can give the students the option of choosing their cities as well. This map can be something to consider, as well as average income, average cost of living, crime rate and many other statistics. To strengthen research skills, have students research this information for a short period of time. After about an hour they must have their city chosen with reasons why. Using these reasons may help you create a custom set of chance cards for each student. For instance, if a student chooses a city with a higher crime rate, but also a higher average salary, they may have more chance cards with crimes committed against them, but also more promotions.

Finally, it would be interesting to see what students think about these statistics. Why do they think the South has a lower life expectancy than the North. Isn’t the air cleaner in the South? But the average income is higher in the North. How do they think these factors come into play in the life expectancy? What other factors may come into play?

This is an important thing for students to consider, especially those in upper grades. They are about to embark on their own, wether they choose to go to college or not. And it will become their responsibility to decide where to live. This may be something they may want to consider in their real life.



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