Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Many People in Your Family?

This post is more of just an extended tweet than it is a blog post, but I thought it might be interesting to share.

My daughter had a math assignment where she was supposed to gather data on how many people were in people's families, then graph it and determine things like median, mode, range, maximum and minimum (interestingly, not the mean, although they've done that for other problems - which is probably good since median makes much more sense for this problem). Just for fun I created a quick Google Form and tweeted it out.

The only required question was "How Many People in Your Family?" with some directions on how to define that for this problem, but then I also asked (just because I was curious) two optional questions: your location and your age.

Well, that quick tweet generated 95 responses (so far). Since Abby is at the point where it's still really hands-on with the data and you generate graphs by hand (to get a better understanding of the concept), that was a little more than she needed, so she decided to just use the first thirty-two. Here are her results:

In case you're curious, here are the results for all 95 data points:

The median and the mode were both 4 and the standard deviation was 1.54.

For those of you curious about the ages of the respondents, the mean was 40.37, the median and mode were both 39, and the standard deviation was 10.96. (It might be interesting for someone to do a more randomized survey of educational tweeters to see if anything could be deduced from the results - both age and family size data.) We had responses from all over the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Thailand.

So, nothing profound here, but I just thought it was interesting in several respects. First, how many folks responded to a tweet that obviously was not going to have much benefit for/impact on them. Second, how easy it was to generate data via a tweet and a Google Form (not randomized, I realize, but still interesting). Finally, I found the age and family size of the folks who responded interesting, even if I can't draw any major conclusions from it. (Perhaps: The mostly educational twitterers who follow me and responded to this tweet are typically between the ages of 30 and 50 and have two to five people in their immediate family - not a huge surprise.)

Thanks to everyone that helped Abby with this assignment and, if you have anything more profound you can generate from this, feel free to leave it in the comments.


  1. Karl,
    I start a new job next Tuesday, thanks in part to doing something very similar in my interview lesson. Twitter + Google Forms is a powerful way to bring data to life :)

  2. I love the way she used sticky notes to make the histogram. I do this in class too. It's a great way to quickly collect data.

    I do wish though that her teacher had also her asked to determine the mean - and then asked which of mean, median, or mode best represented the data - and why.