Gapminder, Google Earth and

Taking advantage of
really cool web based tools to
enable students to ask questions
and investigate answers
The challenge of developing great
Marion Field Fass, Beloit College 2010
Hans Rosling and Gapminder:
Watch his TED talks!
Gapminder: Goal to make data
accessible and understandable
• What’s here: Gapminder WORLD from UNICEF
My basic question: Health and Wealth
The cool question: Change over time
A key to history, public health,
economic development
Life Expectancy by energy
Chinese provinces: infant mortality
and electric consumption
Life Expectancy at Birth in 2000 versus
Per Capita GDP in 2001 by province
Gapminder: So much data,
so little time
• Characteristics of one country over time
• Comparisons of regions
• Investigations of economic development, income
• Hypotheses about related factors
– What contributes to infant mortality? Maternal
mortality? Literacy, doctors, trained birth attendants,
– How does infrastructure relate to economic
Refining the assignment
• First explore the possibilities
• Then respond to a specific assignment (FYI)
1) 1820 to present -- what time periods represent the greatest
increase in life expectancy?
2) Choose 5 countries from 5 different continents and look at life
expectancy. What hypotheses do you have about differences
you observe?
3) Repeat 1 and 2 using children per woman (Fertility) as your
independent variable (horizontal axis). Does this change what
you observe? What do you think is the relationship between
fertility and life expectancy?
Building an argument using graphs
• GLOBAL HEALTH- first explore the possibilities in
• Using the data you have available on Gapminder,, and other sources, develop a
visual argument that explores the questions
raised in the introduction above. Which comes
first- Health or wealth? Contrast countries or
regions, focusing on 2 dependent variablesinfant or child mortality and life expectancy, and
at least 4 independent variables that help you tell
your story.
• Developing clear assignments
• Explaining the graphs
– Students are most successful if they simplify
• Ruling out certain words in discussionprove, cause
• Using instead: correlate
• Encouraning questions about variables
Other amazing data to explore:
Relative cost of low fat milk to soda
Race in America
Age distribution
and 2050 US Census Bureau
2 minute
Use of modern contraception in SE Asia
How the world is changing
Animation of Internet users 2000 to 2007
Resources for investigation
Gapminder- tools and videos
Demographic and Health Surveys,
Worldmapper, lots of cartograms,
US Food Environment Atlas,
BP Statistical Report on World Energy, with charting tool,
d=7044622 Subscription, very costly Limited information at China Today
China agricultural and economic data
China population pyramids,
World population pyramids, US Census Bureau
China Profile. FREE

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