Two great interactive components in the New York Times this weekend. First, there's a great map of "well-being" in the United States as gathered by the Gallup organization via surveys during 2010. The map shows how people in the entire country (broken down by the 435 congressional districts) rated their happiness, whether they had been diagnosed with depression, stress levels, and many other similar factors. This is a great way to look at factors such as emotion, stress and psychoogical disorders, but to me it's ideal as a jumping-off place for research questions. Why are certain areas high in this aspect, or how does this factor in my community correlate with another factor, etc. If you find some interesting juxtapositions while playing with this map, please share them below. My favorite so far is the seemingly perfect negative correlation, at least to my eyes, between exercise and obesity.
The other component offers you a chance to play Rock Paper Scissors with a computer opponent. Maybe you can't be Ken Jennings taking on Watson, but surely you can take an artificial life form in RPS, right? You're given the choice to play a novice or an veteran (who's learned a few tricks from 200,000 rounds of experience), and once you play to 20 rounds you can share your score on social networks. I'll admit that my first 20 against the novice were 5 wins, 4 losses and 11 ties, while against the veteran I managed 6 wins, but 9 losses and just 5 ties. Interesting to see if your students can come up with a strategy to defeat the "machine"!
--posted by Steve