21st Century Learning
www.gapminder.org 2010-5-26 8-50
5 Sources for Current World Statistics

When teaching current events in school, it is always helpful to have accurate statistics to back you up and provide more meaningful content to your discussion. I only teach elementary students but even in our discussions it is nice to show students some of the data available which we can then relate to their lives.

Here are five sites that can provide you with up to date and meaningful statistics on world issues.

1) Worldometers

Worldometers is a very neat site which I probably use the most with my students. While the other sites don’t have much meaning for my age range, this site gives a very neat visual which is very appealing and revealing to students from primary up. While they might not understand the size of the numbers involved so much, the visual of the numbers increasing as they watch is very relevant for them.

Worldometers describes itself as

Worldometers is part of the Real Time Statistics Project, which is managed by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers with the goal of making world statistics available in a thought-provoking and time relevant format to a wide audience around the world.

Check it out here!

2. World Bank Data

The World Bank Organization has recently released their data for public use. The site is nice and minimally designed with a nicely formatted structure for displaying data on a wide range of data based on the development of 200 countries around the world. This data is focused in terms of “indicators” which include such things as literacy rates, freshwater, agricultural data points, fertility, education, etc. According to the site,

Statistics are a key part of that knowledge and are now easily accessible on the web for all users. The World Bank is providing free and open access to a comprehensive set of data about development in countries around the globe.

Broader access to these data allow policymakers and advocacy groups to make better-informed decisions and measure improvements more accurately. They are also valuable tools to support research by journalists, academia and others, broadening understanding of global issues.

This site is meant to provide all users with improved access to World Bank data and to make that data easier to find and use. We will continue to add to the databases available and welcome suggestions on how we can improve the site for users.

Check it out here!

3. Book of Odds

The Book of Odds is a relatively new player in the field. it is a very different site where visitors can find the odds of almost anything. According to the site,

Book of Odds is the world’s first reference on the odds of everyday life. It is a destination where people come to learn about the things that worry or excite them, to read engaging and thoughtful articles, and to participate in a community of users that share their interests and ambitions.

For over three years we have been building what we believe is the missing dictionary, one filled not with words, but with numbers – the odds of everyday life. It contains hundreds of thousands of Odds Statements, from the odds of being the only one to survive a plane crash, to the odds of having a heart attack, to the odds of having ever eaten cold pizza for breakfast. Book of Odds not only allows you to search for those odds that concern or interest you the most, but also to understand probability by comparing the odds of unfamiliar events to others you have personally experienced. Book of Odds was built for you, and we hope you’ll enjoy it.

So, I did a search for the odds of catching a cold and discovered that The odds a person will die from exposure to excessive cold of man-made origin in a year are 1 in 148,200,000 (US, 2005) which relieves me somewhat. Then I did a search for odd of being hit by a garbage truck. After making my topic more general, I discovered that the odds a person will die from being hit, struck, or bumped by another person in a year are 1 in 11,400,000 (US, 2005). You can filter your information a number of different ways though, at this point, it is US centric. However, they do give a neat little video for each odd describing visually the odds of that event happening and give you their sources for the information. A neat site but you need to be careful going there (to the main page anyway) as some of the content, though somewhat scientifically bent, may not be appropriate.

Check it out here!

4. Show: Mapping Worlds

Mapping Worlds is a neat site along the lines of the World Bank initiative. Clicking on key indicators changes the map according to the percentage of that indicator by country. For example, typing in children will rearrange the sizes of countries on the map of the world relative to the percentage of children in that country. Other key facts are given about that indicator and placing your mouse on countries on the map will give you information specific that country. A nice feature is the ability to embed the animation on to your blog. There are also options for looking at stats for the United States and Japan by selecting that choice on the homepage of the site. According to the site,

SHOW® – A New Way to Look at the World is a Mapping Worlds initiative to provide efficient and comprehensive access to statistical data on world issues. The interface makes data truly accessible by making it easy to find, easy to use, and easy to understand. Our platform acts as a filter of information, extracting the most valuable content and bringing it to life in innovative graphics.

Check it out here!

5. Gapminder

Gapminder was made famous through it’s Corresponding TED talk which you can see below. Like the sites above, Gapminder takes already existing and collected data from a number of sources and presents it in an interactive and easy to use visual display. According to the site,

Gapminder’s work serves a purpose of filling a gap. There has been a market failure in distributing global data. A lot of people are interested in the data, but don’t get access to it (and if they manage to access the data, they need to be advanced skilled statisticians to analyze it). Gapminder wants to make data more accessible and easier to use for instant visual analysis. We believe decision makers, politicians as well as education at almost all levels lack adequate tools.There is no political agenda behind the work. The idea is that all people, independently of their political agenda, should get free access to already existing statistics about global development to easily improve their understanding about the complex society.

Check it out here!