The Numbers Behind Hunger: Probability
Following are a series of activities in which students apply various math skills to better understand the problems of world hunger and what steps are being taken to reduce the number of people without enough to eat.
This actions looks at probability from the perspective of reducing child mortality.
This is Activity #4 of 5 in this lesson.
Time Required: 1 hour (Add or subtract activities as desired to make a longer or shorter lesson, or each activity could be expanded to become its own lesson)
Students will understand different formats for analyzing and presenting statistical information.
Students will also gain proficiency in the following areas:
-Rate of change
-Graphing / Equation of a line
Questions for students:
1) The UN Stats website reports “Deaths per 1,000 live births” to record progress towards this target.
a. What was the statistic for the “developed regions” in 1990? Using this number, what is the probability that a baby born in a developed country (such as the United States) would live to be 5 years old? (be sure to adjust the statistics to reflect the probability of survival)
b. Now, look at the statistic for other regions around the world and translate those into probabilities of survival. In sub-Saharan Africa, what would the probability of survival be?
c. What might some of the causes be for any differences you found?
Links with other subjects:
Hunger and nutrition could be addressed simultaneously in Social Studies and even Chemistry classes. One approach would be for students to select 3-5 countries and take a closer look at the question of hunger in those countries. Countries could be from different regions in the developing world, or a mix of developing and developed countries. Both the UN Stats website and the World Bank MDG site have detailed statistics by country. Social Studies students can look at the many interrelated factors that lead to hunger (failure of harvests, poor economic planning, poor infrastructure, conflict, displacement, etc.) Chemistry students could take a closer look at the makeup of foods and their nutrient value.
Other ideas to explore:
1) Does modern technology offer any solutions to the problem of world hunger. Are genetically-modified crops helpful or harmful in addressing world hunger? (link with Biology). Are there other technological advances in irrigation or even in the financial world (crop insurance) that offer potential solutions?
2) Students can work in teams to look at the situation in a particular country or region.
3) Students can think about and research what, if anything, they can do personally or as a class to address the problem of world hunger. Check out the Taking It Global Guide to Action for more on how students can take action.
Computers with internet access Microsoft Excel or other graph-creating software
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
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