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).