The other day, I randomly wondered what percentage of my life I've lived in Fairfield, California. I did a quick calculation - I've been here for 23 of my 48 years, or approximately 48% of my life. I've only lived in two other places: Livermore, CA for 37% of my life and Davis, CA for 15% of my life. Interesting!
The next thing I knew, I'd pushed aside the work I'd intended to do and made this:
It struck me that this would make a great math activity for upper elementary and middle school kids. It provides lots of practice converting fractions to percentages, converting those percentages to degrees of a circle, then using a protractor to make the circle graphs.
To begin, brainstorm categories of things with clear start and end times, like cities (or states, or countries) you've lived in, or schools you've attended, or sports teams you've played on. I chose six categories. In addition to where I've lived, I included:
- who I've lived with (my parents, roommates, alone, and with Steve)
- my primary job (student, teacher, blogger)
- my church home (Holy Cross, St. Marks)
- my main club/organization (4-H, a ballroom dance troupe, MOMS Club, and BSA)
- my favorite food (bread)
After choosing your categories, create a chart. Here is the start of my work page. Looking left to right on the first line, you can see the span of years I lived in Livermore (1972-1990), the fraction of my life that represents (18/48), the equivalent percentage (37%), and the number of degrees of a circle that covers (37% of 360° = 133°).
Once all the math is done, draw circles on drawing paper. (In the classroom, we'd use compasses and make proper circles. I just drew mine with a Sharpie, which doesn't look nearly as good.) Label each circle with the category and put the 'answers' underneath. Then use a protractor to divide each circle into the appropriately-sized pieces.
Now add the title at the top.
Color it in and you have a cool glimpse at your percentages! Something neat about this is that you can redo it each year and it will look different since your percentages will change.
This would look so cool on a bulletin board in a classroom. I wish I'd thought of this 15+ years sooner, lol!