The Numbers Behind Hunger: Rate of Change
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 activity looks at how the number of people affected by hunger is changing. Students will understand the dynamic nature of the problem and the challenges of reaching the Millennium Development Goal to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by half by 2015.
This is Activity #2 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) According to the WFP, in the second half of the 1990s did the number of hungry people increase or decrease? By how much?
a. What is the average yearly change in the second half of the 1990s?
b. According to the WFP, what happened in the first half of the 1990s?
c. How would you express the change in both these five-year periods in percentage terms with 1990 as the reference year? (Use 823 million hungry people as a 1990 baseline figure)
2) If the rate of the late 1990s were to continue until 2015, what would be the total number of hungry people in 2015?
a. What would be the increase from 1990 (again use 823 million) in 2015 in percentage terms? (remember to take into account the first half of the 1990s)
3) Graph the total number of hungry people each year based on the data given above from 1990 to 2015.
4) Graph the yearly percentage change based on the data given above from 1990 to 2015.
5) The first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) aims to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger by half by 2015. What yearly change in the number of people suffering from hunger levels now would be required to meet this goal?
a. What would the required decrease be in percentage terms?
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.
Computers with internet access Microsoft Excel or other graph-creating software
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