Category Archives: Data Representation

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!

 

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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.

Are You Eating Tennessee or New Jersey M and M’s?

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Did you know the color distribution of M and Ms has changed over the years?  Quartz has a breakdown, and how you can which factory your candy originates from (including one right here in Tennessee)!  (Thanks to Bowman Dickson for sharing this link on Twitter!)

BADGING:

Read the article linked here or above.

Answer the following questions in a couple of sentences each.

  1.  Compare the color distribution for M and M’s in 1997 compared to the color distribution in 2008.  What changed?  Why do you think it changed (hypothesize)?
  2. Why does Mars no longer publish the color data for M and Ms?  (In other words, what’s true about the two different plants that manufacture M and Ms?)
  3. Buy a bag of M and Ms and before you eat it, count the colors.  Create a data display (bar graph, pie graph, etc) to show the color distribution in your bag (you can use Excel or some other program to help you do this, or you can do it by hand).  State whether or not you think you are eating New Jersey or Tennessee M and Ms based on your results, and explain your reasoning.

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!