Visualizing numbers

Thousands of photos are uploaded to Flickr each day. But what does this number really mean? There are a lot of things that can cover thousands. And compared to the number of photos one can view online, its difficult to think of thousands of photos. So one person decided to take it upon themselves to show how many this is. For 24 hours, they printed all the photos that were uploaded.

This is a great idea for students. I personally have a difficult time picturing amounts, distance and time because these numbers are just thrown around. Challenge students to show these numbers when they use them. Do not allow a student to use the phrase forever, but actual times tables. If a student says it took them like 6 hours to do their homework last night, have them use a clock to show 6 hours, and write a journal of everything they did during a six hour block of time. If they mention a town is 20 miles away, pull out a map and have the student draw a radius of 20 miles. Tell the student that what must also be factored in is traffic patterns, especially in the mountains. A town may be only 20 miles away if it is a straight shot, but most roads involve curves and turns.

Encourage students to choose a project, maybe the number of texts they send or random things they print. Collect a piece of paper for each one and put it in a bag. After a month have the student look at this. They will then realize how much they are really doing this activity, and it may change them. Or they may just say “huh,” and keep up the behavior.


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