Category Archives: Data Representation

Using Math to Cast Space Jam 2

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Some mathematicians at 538 examined the original cast of the Monstars in the movie Space Jam to see if they could estimate the closest comparable players in today’s NBA.  See who they chose for the new Monstars team!

BADGING:

Watch the video linked above.  Answer each of the questions in a few complete sentences each.

  1.  What does the acronym CARMELO stand for?  Explain in your own words what the CARMELO projections are trying to accomplish.
  2.  Look at each of the graphs that compare the original player with the new player  from the modern NBA (pictured below).  Which new cast member appears most similar to the original member they are replacing?
  3.  Look at each of the graphs that compare the original player with the new player  from the modern NBA (pictured below).  Which new cast member appears most different to the original member they are replacing?

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4.  Fred VanVleet is 9 inches taller than Muggsy Bogues was in the original Space Jam movie.  Explain how they can have the exact same rating on the “height” metric in their comparison graphs.

5.  Pick one of the statistics listed in the comparison graphs that you aren’t sure of its meaning.  Look it up in the basketball-reference glossary and explain what the statistic measures in your own words.

Who is the REAL star of “Friends”?

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A data scientist studied the transcripts for every episode of the hit TV show Friends to try and determine who the real “star” of the show is.  Which Friend is the show really about? Read the article to find out more.

BADGING:

Assuming you are familiar with the show Friends (why are you doing this badge otherwise?!  There are plenty of others that might interest you more!), write a short paragraph explaining which Friend you think is the main character of the show.  Explain your reasons for making that choice.

Then read the article linked above.

In a second paragraph, explain the data scientist’s reasoning for making his choice.  Include the five categories (graph headings) that he studied and how they helped him to arrive at his conclusion.

Then, in a final paragraph, state a data point that you think the data scientist should have also included to help make his decision.  What other information do you think could help decide who the most important character is on Friends?  Do you think including this information would change the results of the study?

Thanks to Jason Kissel for suggesting this badge!

 

Women are better than men at free throws

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The results of a 30-year study show that women NCAA basketball players shoot free throws more consistently than male NCAA basketball players.  See the findings here.

BADGING:

Before reading the article, make at least three hypotheses that you think might be the reason women tend to be “better” at free throws than men in the NCAA.

Then read the article linked above.

Below your hypotheses, write a paragraph explaining what the study found.  What appears to be the major factor in the women’s free throw consistency?  Compare this finding to your hypotheses.

Write a second paragraph stating another athletic comparison that you would like to see studied (for example, “Who makes free throws more consistently, left-handers or right-handers?”).  It doesn’t have to be a basketball comparison.  Explain why you think this comparison could be valuable to athletes and coaches.

Thanks to Bradley Warfield for suggesting this badge!

W.E.B. DuBois at the World’s Fair

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W.E.B. DuBois, the first African American to earn a doctorate from Harvard University, attended the World’s Fair in 1900 in Paris with some amazingly beautiful graphs (“Data Visualizations”) that showed what life was like for black folks in America at the end of the 1800’s.  Read about them and see the striking images by clicking here.

BADGING:

Read the article linked above.

Pick any three of the graphs from below the article that DuBois displayed at the World’s Fair.  For each of the three graphs you choose, answer these questions:

  1. What is the title of the graph?
  2. What aesthetic or artistic choices (colors, layout, design, etc.) did DuBois make in creating this graph?
  3. How did those choices from the previous question add to the visual appeal of the data?  Why is this graph more effective than just listing the data as a table or a list of numbers?

Then, write a single paragraph that summarizes what you learned about what life was like for African Americans in the USA at the end of the 1800s (especially in the South).  What was DuBois trying to show the world by bringing these graphs to the World Fair?

Thanks to Jason Kissel via Chris Nho for suggesting this badging opportunity!

Lindsey Vonn Wants To Race Against The Men. Should the Olympics Allow It?

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With the 2018 Winter Olympics in full swing, 538 has published an analysis of Men’s vs. Women’s skiing statistics.  In the history of the Olympics, men and women have always raced separately and received separate medals.  American Olympian Lindsey Vonn wants to be able to race against the men.  What do the numbers say about this?

BADGING:

Read the article linked above.  Answer the following questions in a couple of sentences each.

  1.  In what skiing event(s), if any, do men appear to be consistently faster?  In what skiing event(s), if any, do women appear to be consistently faster?  In what skiing event(s), if any, does there not appear to be any discernible difference between men’s and women’s speed?
  2. What other factor(s) do we need to take into account about the men’s and women’s skiing events besides their average speed?
  3. Using the data provided in the article, write a short paragraph making an argument either FOR or AGAINST women racing against men in alpine skiing events.  (There is no correct stance to take on this issue, but you must use the data to support your claim.  Don’t just state your opinion.)
  4. Does Lindsey Vonn think she would win against the men?  What do you think is her motivation for wanting to race against the men?

How Well Can You Remember Famous Logos?

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STOP!  If you plan on finishing this badge, right now I want you to take a blank sheet of paper and draw any THREE (3) of the following company logos from memory (including color — not just black and white drawings unless the logo itself is black and white).  Don’t look them up, just draw what you can remember of any three of these logos:

Apple, Adidas, Burger King, Domino’s, 7-11, Foot Locker, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, IKEA.

People all over the country were asked to do this activity, and the results are interesting.  After you’ve drawn your logos from memory, click HERE to compare your drawings to everyone elses.

BADGING:

Draw the logos before reading the article, then look at the article.  You don’t have to read the whole thing — but read the introduction, then skip to the three sections that correspond to the three logos that you drew (You can use the icons near the top of the article to “jump” to that section”)

Answer these questions:

  1.  How did you do?  Compare any mistakes you made to the most common mistakes made by other people.
  2. Write a few sentences comparing common mistakes you noted between the three logos that you read about.  Do humans have any common tendencies?  Notice any patterns you see in the mistakes that people tended to make.  What were the easiest parts of each logo to remember?  Why do you think that is?
  3. Read the Summary at the bottom of the page and “place yourself” on the table/chart that they showed.  Do you think you have a better- or worse-than average memory?
  4. Take the interactive quiz underneath the summary  How did you do?  Better or worse than you expected?

When you turn in your badge, be sure to include your original drawings-from-memory.

She May Not Look Like Much, But She’s Got It Where It Counts, Kid.

 

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From Nerdist comes an infographic outlining the fastest space craft in the known universe — both real and fictional!  Check out the picture here! (Nerdist)

BADGING:

Look at the infographic linked above.

Pick out two of your favorite ships from the “relativistic” category.  Calculate their acceleration in m/s^2 (meters per second per second).  Compare those to a roller coaster in our very own Dollywood called the Tennessee Tornado, which reaches 3.7G.  How is it possible that a roller coaster achieves the same G-force as a space shuttle?

Then, pick out two of your favorite ships from the “faster than light” category (Note:  These are *all* fictional, as this type of travel is not yet possible).  Calculate their speed in miles per hour (You need to know that there are 1000 meters in a kilometer, and 1.62 km in a mile to do this calculation).  Please note that you may put your answers in scientific notation, and that you may not choose the Heart of Gold for this exercise.

*If you liked this badge, thank Eleanor for sharing the infographic with me!

 

 

What Are The Most Likeable Prime Numbers?

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So there’s this Twitter feed that tweets out the prime numbers…in order…on the hour…every hour.  Friend of Pre-Algebra.info David Butler analyzed the data from this Twitter feed to see which prime numbers were the most popular (via Likes and Re-Tweets).  See the results in his blog post.

BADGING:

`1.  Before you visit the blog post linked above, visit the Twitter feed that lists primes.  Out of the most recent 15 primes listed, which one is your “favorite”?  (You can decide how to interpret “favorite”.  Just decide which of the most recent 15 primes you like the best).

2.  Now visit Dr. Butler’s blog post where he analyzes the prime data.  Read the blog post and look at the data displays.  List at least four characteristics he noticed about the “most liked” primes, and give an example from the data to support each claim.

3.  Refer to your prime choice from question #1.  Does your choice fit any of the four categories from the second question?  Which ones?

4.  Hypothesize: Why do you think certain patterns or arrangements of primes are more “likeable” than others?  What might this have an impact on subjects like cryptography (internet passwords or even locker combinations)?

5.  Here’s a link to ten random ten-digit prime numbers?  Using what you’ve learned so far, which one do you think would be the “most liked”?  Explain your reasoning.

The Difference(s) Between Pro and Amateur Soccer Players

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With GPS data being used in a variety of sports, we have more data than ever to compare professional athletes.  More than just stats like goals and assists, we can actually measure distance traveled and top speeds.   The folks over at SportTechie have analyzed the data comparing amateur and professional soccer players.  Check out the differences between the players here.

BADGING:

Read the article linked above and answer the following questions (You may use a calculator, but show your work!).

  1.  The English Premier League leader in distance covered in the 2016/17 season was Tottenham’s midfielder Christian Eriksen, who covered an average of 11.92 kilometers per match.  If there are approximately 1.62 km. in a mile, how many miles did he average per match?  How does that compare to an average professional midfielder (data included in the article)?
  2. Let’s say an amateur attacker and a professional attacker are both racing towards the same spot on the soccer pitch.  Both players are 100 feet from the spot.  Calculate how far away would the amateur player be from that spot when the professional player arrived there, assuming both players ran at their top speed the entire time.  (There are 5280 feet in a mile, and use the speed data from the article linked above).
  3. An English Premier League season is 38 games long.  Over the course of a 38-game season, calculate how much farther a professional defender would run when compared to an amateur defender.

 

Categorizing Flags

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Via CityLab comes a bunch of infographics that examine how different flags around the world are constructed.  Pretty cool stuff!

BADGING:

Pick the United States and one other country (Your choice!  Maybe this is a country that you’ve visited, one where you have lived at one time in your life, one where a family member lives, or just one you are interested in for any reason).

Look through the infographics at the link above and answer the following questions about the flags for the USA and the other country that you chose.

  1.  Do your countries’ flags (USA and the other one you chose) have any of the five most typical layouts?  If so, which ones?
  2. Do your countries’ flags have any of the most typical colors included in them?  Which ones?
  3. Research what the colors on your countries’ flags are used to represent. Are they the most typical meaning behind those colors, or a less-used meaning?
  4. Do your countries’ flags include any of the five most common symbols?  Which ones?
  5. How complex are your countries’ flags?  If they are more than just “Child’s Play”, what elements do you think made the flags more complicated?
  6. Finally, imagine you were going to create a new country and had to design a flag.  Given what you learned about flag design from these infographics, how would you design your flag so that it was similar enough to other world flags (doesn’t feel like a huge outlier) but still different enough to be recognizable and unique (doesn’t feel like a copycat) ?  Draw/color a sketch of your new flag after you print out your answers to the previous five questions.