Susan Boone --sboone@cs.rice.edu
Saint Agnes Academy
Subjects: Mathematics
Topic: Data Collection, Problem Solving, Research Skills, and Interpolation of Data
Focusing on Social Justice Issues
January, 2001

Purpose: Students will review the Census Bureau's Homepage on the Internet and gather data regarding trends in population, poverty guidelines, and social characteristics beween caucasians and minorities.   They will study this data and analyze whether any social justice issues are evident from the data collected.

Materials: Internet access.

Prior knowledge: This lesson can be modified to address various levels of mathematics. Depending upon your students abilities, you can change the type of questions asked. I am focusing on entry level Algebra I students.

Description: The Internet site used for this lesson provides a great deal of data dealing with social issues. This lesson lends itself particularly well to social studies. Mathematically, students will be asked to collect data over a given period of time and record this data in a meaningful way.

Time: This lesson could be done if there is only one available computer to access the Internet. Groups of two students could work on this assignment independent of other work. This lesson could easily be modified to accommodate various ongoing group activities.

Procedure: Divide the students into groups of two or three. Over an assigned period, have students collect data from the Census Bureau Homepage .  Data should be collected in regard to earnings, poverty levels, population, and a comparison should be made in regards to race.  Students will record this data and at the end of the lesson, the class will decide on a reasonable representation of the data. Many social issues are addressed regarding the life expectancy of males and females, aid for children, and statistics on unwed mothers. Students should answer the question portion of this lesson plan. Students can use the Census Bureau Homepage to research the data needed to determine the answers for the following questions. Students should include the location (URL) for the location the correct data for each question was found. this information can be found in the location box from the Internet browser screen.

Suggested Questions:

1. What is the ratio, (rounded to the nearest whole number) of female to male custodial parents (as of 1992)? URL (location) used? hint: this information deals with Child Support

2. What percent of mothers receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children was never married? URL (location) used?hint: try searching for AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children)

3.  Research the amount of Aid to Families with Dependent Children given in the Houston (or nearest large city). How does this number compare with the National average? The AFDC site lists information on various parts of the country. Your data can be from the South/Central region, or you could discuss metropolitan areas in general. Report why this trend is present. This information may be difficult to find on the Internet. You may need to contact the local government agencies by telephone or letter.

Gender Issues: Write your opinion on custodial "mothers vs. fathers". Why do you think a discrepancy in funding exists?

Comments: please send comments or suggestions to Susan Boone, sboone@cs.rice.edu. Special thanks to Erin Santarcangelo and Jillian Dubay for recent updates.

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