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Interesting Numbers

External Web Sites with more Interesting Numbers

  1. Math in the Media

"Math In The Media, will highlight specific stories found in the media which use numbers. This site is designed to be used by middle school math teachers. The goal is to get students interested in math using 'real world examples;' things they can relate to easily. At the same time, the topics addressed in the news stories are those which are regularly reported. Teachers can easily link to a news source and download the latest information, making the topic relevant and timely."

  1. Harper's Index

Here you'll find facts, figures, news and quotes about the growing divide between rich and poor in North America.  There is much food for thought here.

Also take a look at the Global Rich List.  Even the poorest Americans look wealthy beyond measure next to the billions of humans subsisting on one or two dollars a day.

  1. Highlights from CSPI's Liquid Candy, a report on soft drinks and health
  2. Tax Freedom Day statistics
  1. What Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants you to know about drinking and driving
  1. Facts about tobacco and kids
  2. 50 facts about world health in 1998 from the World Health Organization
  3. The Economist's Big Mac Index to world currency
  4. Zap2It gives you easy access to the weekly ratings for Motion Pictures.
  5. Discover Magazine's May 1996 issue was devoted to an exploration of risk.  Here are links to 3 online articles from that issue.  A trip to your library to view the entire issue would probably be worth your while.  Something I've found especially useful with my students is its Risk Analysis Quiz.
  1. A Fistful of Risks
  2. Beyond the Lab Rat
  3. Risky Business
  1. Advertising Age is a weekly where you can keep up with an industry central to understanding contemporary America.   Their dataplace section contains fascinating statistical snapshots.
  2. American Demographics magazine is a monthly that tracks the statistical pulse of the U.S.   Free access to articles is no longer provided.
  3. Polling organizations are a great source of interesting numbers.  Here are some of my favorites.
  1. The Gallup Poll is the oldest continuing polling organization in the U.S.  It has been conducting election polls since 1936.  Click here to see how accurate it has been.  (This is now Premium Content requiring a paid subscription for access.)

The Gallup Organization also polls the public to find out what people feel is the "most important problem" facing the nation at any given moment.  Click here to see the results back to 1980.  (This is now Premium Content requiring a paid subscription for access.)

  1. The Pew Center is a newer organization.  One of its more interesting on-going polls is its list of the most closely followed news stories.  Click here to see the list from 1986-present.
  1. Public Agenda clearly presents factual information on major issues of national concern.  Their About Polling section is essential for anyone wanting to read polls intelligently.  Especially important are their 20 questions to ask about polls.
  1. The October 2000 issue of Vital Statistics takes a clear look at "the facts and methods behind the mystery of polling."  Don't miss it.
  1. allows you to quickly compare the results from major polls on similar questions.
  1. National news organizations often maintain their own polling operations.  Click below to see what's offered by some good ones.

Current polls

Polls prior to 2002

Current polls

Polls prior to 2004

  1. Information Please Almanac
  2. Kids and Media

On November 17, 1999, the Kaiser Family Foundation released this report which documents the media use of America's kids (aged 2-18).  To read the executive summary, which summarizes the main points made in the report, click here.

The release was heavily covered in the U.S. news media.  Samples of the coverage can be seen in this Washington Post article, and in a discussion on NPR's Talk of the Nation (hour 2 on 11-17-99).  The Talk of the Nation discussion is available for online listening if you have the Real Player plug-in for your browser.  To hear it, scroll down the Talk of the Nation window that opens when you click on the discussion link above until you see the link "Hour Two: Kids and Media".  Click on that link and your Real Player plug-in will activate and play the program. 

In March 2005, the Kaiser Family Foundation updated their 1999 report.

  1. Kids Count

This site was created and is maintained by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  It "is a national and state-by-state effort to track the status of children in the United States. By providing policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks to enrich local, state, and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children. At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children. The Foundation also funds a nationwide network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, community-by-community picture of the condition of children."  If you want a statistical picture of children in the U.S. as a whole, and your state in particular, begin here.

  1. Child and Family Statistics

This is the official web site of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.  Its home page states that it "offers easy access to federal and state statistics and reports on children and their families, including: population and family characteristics, economic security, health, behavior and social environment,and education."  Each year it publishes America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-BeingClick here to read the press release announcing the major findings from the 1999 edition

  1. How safe are schools?

In light of highly publicized school shootings, I decided to find out just how safe schools really are.  My quest led me to these internet sites.

  1. The Statistical Assessment Service

"The Statistical Assessment Service looks at the way that scientific and quantitative research are presented by the media...."  In so doing its authors examine various fascinating topics.

  1. Statistics Every Writer Should Know

Robert Niles explains basic statistical concepts in crystal clear English.  For those who want to know more, he provides a great bibliography.  He also provides internet links to a wide variety of statistical data organized by topic.

  1. John Allen Paulos' columns on ABC News online

Mathematician John Allen Paulos posts a fresh column on the first of each month.   They are not to be missed.

Innumeracy (the title of Paulos' best known book) creates many social problems.  The Washington Post identifies some in a February 6, 2001 article.

  1. Vague Politix

This PBS web site is an attempt to organize "raw, exciting political material from the Web" and present "it so that you can go deeper into matters whenever you like."   Their first focus is on crime.

  1. Your Nation

If you are interested in comparative national statistics (life expectancy, education, economics, etc.), then this is the site for you.  It is easy to use and graphically rich (without taking forever to download).

  1. Do U.S. students have the write stuff?

This site is's look at the Department of Education's report (released September 28, 1999) on the writing ability of America's primary and secondary students.  Its links to a wide variety of resources on the controversial role of testing in American education make it truly indispensable.

  1. The Math Wars

This is the Christian Science Monitor series on the fight over the old math, the new math, and the new new math.

  1. How much does it cost to raise a child?

Each year since 1960, the US Department of Agriculture issues a report showing the average cost of raising a child in the United States from birth to 17 years.  If you have the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can read each of those issued since 1996 by clicking here.  If you just want to look at the press releases announcing each of these reports, use the following links.

  1. Statistical Abstract of the United States

You may have noticed that I've included this as a source for my answers to many of the Interesting Number questions I've posted.  That is because I consider it the best general compilation of statistics on topics of interest about the U.S.  If you haven't seen it, look through it (either online or in your library reference room).  I can almost guarantee that there is something of interest available for everyone.

You may also want to examine the Historical Statistics of the United States, Bicentennial Edition.

  1. American FactFinder from the U.S. Census Bureau

    Find out more than you ever wanted to know about your city, town and zipcode.

  2. A Brief Look at Infinity

At the following links, you'll find some interesting ideas for introducing the concept of infinity to your students.

  1. Fibonacci Numbers

This is an absolutely stunning site.

  1. The Divine Proportion

At one time, mathematics and philosophy were one.  Here is an attempt to reunite them.

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original web posting: Wednesday, December 16, 1998
last modified: Saturday, August 07, 2010