Numerical Literacy in Minnesota History

Data in Minnesota History Assignment

We’re going to explore how to use how historians use numbers to explain the past, using statistics, data, and visualizations. You do not need any higher-level math skills to understand these lessons. The following worksheet guides you through some initial introductory exercises.

Please answer all questions in complete sentences.

Why understanding statistics matter:

Go to this activity

Play the game. Do you understand why you should always switch?

If not, go to this explanation for more details.

Play the game.

Calculator (Mean, Median)

  1. Average the following ages: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, 6, 9, 18, 18, 35, 45, 58, 72, 73, 75, 78, 88, 92, 107, 110. (25 numbers)

  2. What is the median age of death for this town?

  3. What is the mode age of death for this town?

Google Books Project – Percentages

  1. Go to
    Experiment with a series of queries, both for single words and for phrases.

Run a query with _INF as a modifier (Inflection).
Run a query with * as a modifier (top ten replacements) Minnesota.
Click on “About Ngram” at the bottom of the page. Read the advanced features. Choose one feature to run.

Choose two MN historically important keywords and run a query. What are your keywords and your results?

Choose one MN historically important phrase and run a query. What is your phrase and your result?

Gapminder World (Linear vs. Logarithmic Scales)

  1. Go to
  2. Select the U.S.
  3. Place Infant mortality on the Y axis.
  4. Place Income per person on the X axis.
  5. Press play in the lower portion of your screen.

What do you observe about infant mortality in comparison to income per person over time.

Chose two data categories to compare.
What are your categories and what conclusions can you draw from your chart?

Immigration in Minnesota

  1. Explore the data page on historical trends in immigration in MN here:

Chose a graph, chart, or table your find interesting. What does your graph, chart, or table tell us, specifically, about Minnesota’s history. For example, one chart shows that "until the 1950s, Minnesota had a higher share of foreign-born people than the rest of the U.S."