Create a Graph: Something To Play With

I realize that I’m probably about eight years behind the curve on this one, but I only just learned that the National Center for Education Statistics has this cute little create-a-graph application (Flash required), good for whipping up several of the name-brand graphs out there.

The pie chart is particularly nice since I’ve never figured out how to make pie charts in Octave (it’s probably some tricky command like ‘pieplot’), and they have a neat historical resonance because they were turned from one of the many obscure tools of the then-obscure field of statistics into the first rank of mathematical tools by Florence Nightingale. She used them as a way to communicate, efficiently, what the causes of death in the Crimean War were.

This gives me use a fine narrative hook in class: I can ask them if they know who first made pie charts famous, and then insist they do indeed, they just never had any idea about it.