Where do you find awesome data?

Coolest thing about teaching math? You can use math to explore whatever the flip else you want (population, box office trends, the economy etc etc). Which is why I love love love data and try to start most units numerically with data either found or collected. Another math blogger posted looking for good data sources. I am also always looking for data sources, specifically ones that have interesting and extensive data that are easy to search through, and then easy to access in spreadsheet form.  Here are some that I have found – please comment with any other sources you know (cough*stat teachers*cough).

UN data: A huge database of socioeconomic data broken down by country that could be really fun to explore, but might be a bit overwhelming if you don’t have an idea of what you are looking for. My favorite more specific UN data though is the…

UN World Population Prospects:  Great population data for every country in the world (since 1950) and population predictions through 2100. Is is really easy to search for and  then download the data in .csv form. There are also lots of great population factors that you can look at too. I actually do a whole week-long project with this database (I love it that much) .

Gapminder:  Good, focused data about various human geography type topics.

Google Public Data Explorer: Like the UN data website, just a crap ton of random data that would be fun to sift through. They do have a rolling front page though that gives random data ideas, which is fun to look through.

Google Trends: This is a really cool Google service (surprise, something cool from Google) where you can get data on how popular search terms are over time. You can see the correlation between different terms and restrict data to different regions. I really want to try to do something with this next year!

Box Office Mojo: I love box office data! Different types of movies seem to have different models that fit their data (for example, the gross earnings for an indie movie turned popular fits a logistic function very well), and talking about weekly intake of money vs. gross earnings is a nice easy way to talk about derivatives. Sometimes it’s a little hard to find that data in a good form because people usually only care what’s going on this week, and also care more about rankings, but you can click on a movie and then get box office earnings by week for every movie ever, which I have found to be the most useful way to look at it.

Baby Name Voyager: I love this website, even though the data isn’t that accessible (just graphs and then you can see the numbers on the graphs). It shows trends of baby names over time (as in how many people are named Bowman by year) which is really fun. (Answer: not many).

What else do you have for me?

Posted on July 4, 2012, in Data, Teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Thank you thank you thank you! This is perfect timing. We’re talking about modeling data with exponential and logistic models in Business Calc. I love the UN World Population site. Will use this. Probably next week. If I can get my act together.

  2. Love this! A few more links to large-scale datasets for you.

    All sorts of stuff from the Census Bureau, from businesses (County Business Patterns) to language (American Community survey) to, yes, population count: http://www.census.gov/main/www/access.html The Statistical Abstracts of the US are fun to poke through for random factoids: http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/statab.html

    If someone’s interested in religious data: http://www.thearda.com/Archive/browse.asp

    And US education information is here: http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/ (You can even get international data going to TIMMS’ page http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/international/ide/ )

    I’m not 100% sure it’s accessible if you’re not at an affiliated instution, but the economists’ have a good list at http://www.nber.org/data/

    Datamasher’s fun to play with for visualizing data: http://www.datamasher.org/

  3. Fabulous. was just looking for ideas and you’ve got plenty here. and since I believe in give and take, here are some of my links:

    Many eyes – data visualisation use what’s there or follow links to data source;

    Factbrowser – research discovery engine

    Census At School – ok, this is Australia-centric but I love the random sampler, especially for my students to “compare” themselves against a bigger sample

  4. Glen Waddell has compiled a good list of databases:


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