Talking through different kinds of corona virus visualizations with kids

Yesterday Jordan Ellenberg posted a really good thread about a different viral twitter thread about the corona virus:

Inspired by that thread, I decided that we’d talk through several different corona virus visualizations. The pandemic has hit different parts of the US (and different parts of the world) so differently, so I was really interested to hear what the boys thought of the various graphs and presentations.

First we looked at a county by county comparison of the pandemic in Massachusetts and Texas. We looked at cases and deaths per 100,000 people from January through June in each county:

Next we looked at a more traditional data presentation with graphs of total cases by state

Now for a different perspective on the cases in each state, we looked at the graphs of cases over time weighted by population. I think the difference in the total cases graphs and the population weighted graphs are easy for adults to understand, but the differences were a little harder for the kids to interpret:

Finally we looked at a data presentation that I think I’d never seen before the pandemic. Mathematica calls this presentation a Matrix Plot – I don’t know what these plots are usually used for.. These plots were hard for me to understand when I first saw them, but they made a bit more sense to the kids this morning:

I think that showing kids data about the corona virus helps them get a better understanding of what’s going on. Talking through different kinds of presentations is an important exercise, too, as kids will often see ideas in these presentations that are different from what you were expecting them to see.