Ecology, Data Analysis, and Pen Pals

I’ve been poking around online looking for interesting projects involving data analysis, and I’ve come across some write ups of projects involving cemetery demography.  There’s a lot of potential here – it’s an interesting intersection of ecology, medical science, and social studies.  And, from a practical point of view, the appeal of a biology field trip where the subjects are guaranteed to show up is undeniable.

If I can make the logistics of a field trip work I’d like to give it a go with at least one of my high school biology classes this year, as part of our study of ecology.  (This is a big if – scheduling with homeschool groups is no joke.)  If we can’t swing a field trip, perhaps we’ll use some published data, although I think this would have a lot less impact for students.

Even better than just going on a data collecting trip ourselves would be to partner with a group doing a similar project in a different part of the country.  I imagine that lots of interesting stories would come to light by comparing data from, say, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn with an equivalent cemetery in Los Angeles.  I also expect that sharing data and ideas with students across the country would be a meaningful experience for students.  As a practical matter, I won’t be arranging a cross-country project this year.  With seven classes, all different, in four locations, I simply don’t have the prep time.  Perhaps I’ll be able to swing it in the future. That’s why I’m posting this blog – since I review old posts, ideas I put here are ideas I won’t forget.

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