We here at Key really love our TinkerPlots software. And we’re always talking about the power of using it cross-curricularly—using data to enhance understanding of, say, science or social science topics, as well as using these contexts to motivate the exploration of data analysis and math. TinkerPlots comes with dozens of data sets relevant in a variety of contexts, and we add more on our website. But this blog post we just came across takes it to an impressive level.
In this blog, an Australian educator discusses a series of lessons and simulations that cover both the history topic of world exploration and the math topic of understanding that prior events can affect the likelihood of subsequent events. He covers geography, Dutch trading, colonies, and the dangers of seafaring. He simulates the impact of weather on the chance of a successful journey, and the fact that weather not only impacts success or failure, but travel speed, chance of getting scurvy, and so on—dependent events. He has a series of four videos that introduce the topic and show how to use TinkerPlots to do the simulations.
Imagine the power of engaging with a student who’s really interested in history, for example, and incidentally allowing them to use a data analysis tool to model and understand the topic more fully. A student who may not be particularly impressed with math may suddenly see the value of it in studying what they DO care about. And isn’t that part of the beauty and value of math?
We recently asked fans at our Facebook page what they love about math. Responses were along the lines of, “It provides concise and precise statements of how things work, revealing the beauty of the natural world to all,” “it makes so much sense,” and “I can see it everywhere.” We think a lesson like the one proposed by this teacher can help students love math too.