Fatal sheep disease
This article offers several opportunities for assessing numeracy
skills in an applied setting. The example may be particularly
interesting to students in rural schools, although it could be
used in conjunction with some social science topics anywhere.
An interesting exercise would be to let students devise their
own problems (with answers) and then let other member of the
class solve them. Calculators are an obvious resource to use
with such exercises so that a focus can be on meaning rather
than operations such as long division. Examples of questions
range from very straight forward to quite complex.
- From paragraph one, what is the average number of sheep destroyed
by each of the 24 farmers? [Discuss the rounding necessary to
get a reasonable estimate.]
- From paragraphs two and three, what is the minimum number
of sheep which could be destroyed with the compensation money?
What assumptions have to be made? [If all are rams, then $1,000,000
/ $100 = 10,000 rams.]
- From the same information, what is the maximum number of
sheep which could be destroyed with the compensation money? Again
what assumptions are needed? [If all are wethers or lambs, $1,000,000
/ $15 = 66,667 wethers and lambs.]
- Within the range of values, what are reasonable numbers of
sheep which could be destroyed with the compensation money? [The
assumptions to be made here relate to the proportion or fraction
of the sheep which are in the four categories. This is a more
complex but more interesting modelling problem which may lead
to a rudimentary algebra problem. For example, if X represents
all of the sheep, what are reasonable fractions in each category?
Maybe [guess by city dweller!]:
This would produce an equation:
Obviously many variations are possible!]
Another interesting point for discussion for this article
after some of the considerations above: return to the first paragraph's
claim that 62,000 sheep had already been destroyed.
- What conclusions can be drawn about the likelihood of the
government being able to pay compensation for those already destroyed?
- What questions might be asked?
Where to next?
for this article
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