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Math Center: Life Span

This is a fun activity. It does not require much reading. It requires some subtracting, clicking back and forth in the site, and graphing. If you've never graphed before, this is a perfect place to begin. It is very possible to do. If you happen to make a mistake, oh no, just get another graph or print it out for yourself, if you have printing permission. This activity will work for advanced ABE and GED. Ask permission to print out these directions.

Click on the link at the top of the page.

Your teacher will have printed and copied a table of Life Spans for you. If not, ask permission to print one out for yourself. A graph will print out with it. Keep this, but put it aside for now.

  1. Fill out the table:
    • Click on Index of Black History Related Postage Stamps.
    • Scroll down a little,
    • Click on any name you wish. When that person comes on screen, look to the left sidebar and it will have two dates listed, for example 1870 1890. The first year is the year of birth, when the person was born. The second year is the year the person died.
    • Write in the name of the person on your table.
    • Write the year the person was born and the year the person died.
    • Subtract the year the person was born, 1870, for example, from the year they died, 1890. 1890 - 1870 =20. 20 years was the life span of that person.
    • Click on the BACK button to return to the list of names.
    • Click on a name and do it all over again until the table is completed.
    • Wow! Good for you! You just did a lot of work! Now, here is a place to use this information.
  2. Your teacher will have a graph grid of Number of Years Lived for you. If not, when you printed out the table of Life Spans, this grid was also printed out.
    • Take your first name on your table list and write it on the first slanted line.
    • Using the numbers on the side, count up from the bottom of the graph to the place that comes close to the life span you already figured.
    • Make a mark on the graph.
    • Using a colored pencil, fill in that column of boxes in the graph from the bottom up to the point you marked.
    • Using different colors for each person, do this for everyone on your Life Span list. This will show you how the life span of each person compares to everyone else.
    • This is a bar graph. Who had the longest life? The shortest? In general, did people live fairly long? This is what graphs do, compare information.
  3. Now, if you want some fun comparing graphs, ask your teacher for another Number of Years Lived graph, or ask permission to print out another one. Then, using the same life spans from the Life Span table,
    • Place a dot on the verticle, upright, line that is just to the left of the slanted line that has the person's name on it.
    • Place the dot just about where the years of the person’s life span would be. For example, if the person lived to be 48 years old, place the dot where the number 48 would just about fall on the graph. Do this for every person.
    • Then, begin with the first person and connect that dot with the next person's dot, and the next... When you are done, you will have a line graph.

The interesting thing here is that you have used the same information on a graph in two different ways. The graphs can tell you the same things, they just look different. Which one tells you more easily who lived the longest or the shortest? Which one tells you, in general, how long people lived? Which graph makes more sense to you?

Everyone responds differently to different graphs. Some types of graphs make more sense to one person than to another. Which one makes more sense to you?

Have fun!

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