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I. Probability Topic(s):

• Understand the differences among various kinds of studies and which types of inferences can legitimately be drawn from each;
• Understand how sample statistics reflect the values of population parameters and use sampling distributions as the basis for informal inference.

B.     Related Connections:

• Media

II. Assumed prior experience with:

• Making and using a table

III. Rationale:

• Students need to be made aware of possible misinterpretation of data from the media.

IV. Learning Objectives:

• Students will be able to interpret data they receive from the media;
• Students will be able to discuss possible misinterpretation of data from the media; and
• Students will be able to correctly respond to the misconception quiz question.

V. Materials & Technology Needed:

VI. Procedure:

Step 1: Have students choose to either read the newspaper headlines or watch the news for lead stories.

Step 2: Have students make a spreadsheet recording the "events" that they see in the headlines and lead stories for two weeks.  For example: hurricane, murder, etc.  After they have listed the event they should put marks for each day the "event" is reported.

 3/10/00 3/11/00 3/12/00 3/13/00 hurricane X murder X XX car accident X XX

Step 3: Using the data they collected have each student individually estimate how often these things occur every two weeks.

Step 4: Have students highlight the "events" they have experienced themselves.  Do their estimates of occurrences match their personal experiences?

Step 5: Group students into groups of 3 to 5.

Step 6: Have the groups discuss the actual frequency of such events and make an overhead presentation of their findings to present to the class.

- How do the TV and newspaper reporters choose the stories they report?

- Do newspapers reporters make up the stories to make them seem more frequent?

- Can you make accurate predictions about events using the exposure they get in the media?

- What elements do the media leave out when reporting a story?

- Does the media report the mundane?

- Does the media report "non-events", for example, how many cars did not get into accidents?

VII. Assessment:

Step 7: Class discussion led by the teacher.

Now that the students have done this activity ask them this question:

(Have them respond individually on a piece of paper.)

Which do you think is more prevalent, deaths by homicide or deaths by stroke?

After they respond, tally up the number of students who answered stroke and who answered homicide.  Ask the students to discuss the rationale for their answers.  Ask them which kind of deaths would the media be more inclined to report.