I keep a stash of links with interesting math data here at Byrdseed.com/data. Recently, I discovered this article, which claims that it’s cheaper to live in Las Vegas and fly to work in San Francisco than it would be to both live and work in San Francisco.
This is the perfect kind of data to build a math project around.
- First, it’s super interesting. Everyone wants to know… is it true?
- It’s built on verifiable, easy-to-find data. Students can look up flights, real estate info, and salaries online.
- It’s got tons of math connections. High schoolers could attack it in one way, second graders in another.
- It leads to interesting final products based on student talents. Artists, public speakers, builders, writers, etc could all create something different to show off their discoveries.
- It connects to a bigger, real-world issue.
This type of data grows and shrinks based on your students’ needs and interests and your time. An obvious question is just: is this true?
But if you have more time, you could extend to new questions:
- Want to work in New York, where could you live that’s cheap? What about London or Tokyo?
- What was this same situation like 50 years ago?
- Is a plane cheaper than a train? A car? Uber?
- Why do some cities become expensive and others cheap? Can this change? How? Let’s find examples.
Note how quickly this math project becomes a cross-disciplinary investigation?
I’ve written more here about how to turn data into a meaningful math project.
What Could YOU Do?
I put together a super simple worksheet to scaffold the basics: look for an apartment, look up salary info, calculate commuting costs, and come up with a conclusion.
But, what could you do with the data in this article? Did you actually use it? Let me know: @ianabyrd or firstname.lastname@example.org.