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Classroom-Ready Data Sets in Environmental Math - Investigating Data in the Classroom: Short Example

Greg Langkamp and Joe Hull

Within the background information provided for each data set, we suggest a few questions that one might ask about the data. But we've left these suggestions to a minimum because we anticipate that educators will use the data sets in many different ways. In this sense, the QELP data set collection is simply a resource, not a suggested or prescribed curriculum. That said, you may want a better understanding of how we and others use data sets in the classroom. We provide some short examples here and longer ones in the next two pages.

We often use data sets in lectures or discussions or in simple homework problems. Here are a few short questions that you might pose to students in quantitative reasoning, statistics, or precalculus courses. Use WebStat to work online, or download the data sets to the technology of your choice.

  • Quantitative reasoning: View the 1863-1999 annual precipitation data for Reading, PA in Data Set #049. Create both a histogram and a time series plot of annual precipitation. Are there any years that appear to be outliers? How does each graph indicate outliers?

  • Statistics: Peak stream flow values from two forests (one unlogged, one logged) located in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest are provided in Data Set #061. Each data pair is from one of 352 storm events. Conduct a matched pair t-test to evaluate the claim that the logged forest has higher stream discharge than the unlogged forest (mean of logged - unlogged > 0) for a given storm event. Interpret the 95% confidence interval of the population mean difference. What environmental factors, other than logging, could affect the differences in discharge values between these two forests?

  • Precalculus: Biometric data for 42 rainbow trout (see figure at right) are provided in Data Set #023. Determine the best fitting exponential function through the (length, weight) data. What function would best fit the data if they were in the form (weight, length)?
Source: Ken Hammond, USDA

Greg Langkamp and Joe Hull, "Classroom-Ready Data Sets in Environmental Math - Investigating Data in the Classroom: Short Example," Convergence (December 2004)