ProbStats Assignments: Graph of the Week and Significant Digits

We finally got some tech issues and scheduling issues taken care of and were able to start homework last week. About 1/3 of my students didn’t complete all of it and about 1/4 of them didn’t write well (they were supposed to do a paragraph and multiple students made lists or wrote 2 sentences). BUT the other 5/12 of my students did an awesome job for their first time around.

Their Monday assignment is to respond to Turner’s Graph of the Week. They respond in an online discussion board (we use Canvas for this class) and have to post something on their own but are encouraged to reply to their classmates as well. Last week’s topic was the relationship between fast food sizes and obesity rates among children. Here’s my favorite exchange:

R: The graph(s) show obesity in children since 1971 and show the serving size of fast food in the 1950’s vs now. 1st graph (obesity): The x axis represents the years from 1971 to present and the y axis represents the percent of children who are obese. 2nd graph (fast food): The x axis represents the years since the 1950’s and the y axis represents size of the food. Some observations I can make from these graphs is that fast food and obesity are growing in size through the years. However, children of ages 2-11 are not as obese as they were in 2003 whereas children ages 12-19 are still becoming obese. I foresee obesity and fast food servings continuing to rise in the next 10 years.

J: Very interesting prediction R. I’m not quite sure about the fast food servings sizes increasing as I predict the next marketing tactic used by fast food companies will be healthier eating by reducing sizes.

A: I agree with J to a degree. I do believe that the portions will become smaller, and there will be “healthier” options, I don’t think this will truly change the climbing rate of obesity. Simply because there are better options presented, just opens up an aisle to a new kind of customers. However, that does not prevent or discourage those that simply want to eat unhealthily from doing so as they have for so long.

The other days of the week, students are supposed to select a Significant Digit to discuss. I’ve asked them to summarize what they read, make any connections they can to other things, use this new information to make predictions about the future, and ask questions they still have.

Here are a few good posts from Tuesday:

J: Equifax’s share price has fallen by 35% after the company publicly acknowledged there security breach. Unfortunately, most companies don’t take security seriously until something drastic like this happens. It’s disgusting that such a large company could be so negligent with there security especially considering that hold over 143 million American’s data. This includes social security number, which are supposed to be kept private.

H: The paragraph labeled “$60 Million” talks about how much money the movie “It” made this weekend. The paragraph explained that this would have been the best weekend if it wasn’t for the fact that this was the second weekend the movie was in theaters.The movie achieved a record-breaking $123 million opening the week before. The movie knocked Hotel Transylvania 2 down to third place. Why was the movie so successful? Why was the second Hotel Transylvania more successful than the first? What cinemas played It?

T: Apparently, according to Bloomberg, rich people nowadays are interested in buying submarines. The article focuses around the M7, a submarine that looks like a huge yacht that can go underwater. What fascinates me about it is how much it entices me to want it. Though, what truly baffles me is why anyone would buy it. I mean, unless you’re going to live in it, I doubt anyone smart will drop at least 2.3 billion on it…

These assignments will continue throughout the first semester, which is when we learn about data collection, analysis, and visualization and probability. I began the Graph of the Week in my regular ProbStats class but I don’t think it’s going to create as much thinking and conversation if they just respond on paper. I need to figure out a way to create a space for that.



A high school math teacher trying to help her students find the world and find math through math.

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