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Information is Beautiful : David McCandless

May 9, 2011


If you’ve not seen or heard of David’s work and you teach any subject at all, you need to take a look at his TED talk and the Information is Beautiful website.

Probably best to watch the video before reading the rest of this post really…

I’ve used the first part of the TED talk when introducing the ‘average year 7 student’ project. The project is usually about collecting data of the students’ choice about a number of things that interest them along with more standard things such as height. This then forms the basis of display work allowing a chance to use the three averages and bar charts (maybe pie charts too depending on ability).

However, this year I thought I’d show my students the Billion Dollar O Gram and the Mountains out of Molehills visualisations. I wanted to draw out that the whole point of a mathematical diagram is to let the data speak for itself. It’s even better still if the diagram makes you want to know more.

I’m asking my students to make a diagram to show how they spend their time on a school day and Saturday so we can look for patterns. They’re going to use the Billion Dollar O Gram style and use one 5×5 mm square in their book to represent 5 minutes.

I’m going to give it a go too and I’ll show you my representations when they’re done.

PS I’m going to hit ’em with the Break Up diagram a little later. They’ll love it.

PPS I’ve emailed the Caffeine vs Calories  (click on the coffee cup) diagram to the food tech teachers at my school too.


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