17-18 Discussion for Lesson 2.8


I studied trends between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. I found it interesting that there has been significantly more search interest in Irma that there was in Harvey (2X more). My guess is that since Harvey was so devastating, there is a heightened awareness for Irma. In addition, the search interest in hurricane flood vs hurricane evacuation was interesting in that the majority of the US was searching for information about flooding, while the eastern seaboard was searching about evacuating for Irma. The exception was that the state of Oregon was searching for evacuating also - perhaps folks there either know people in FL or they use to live in FL.

I also looked at Burning Man since I know several people that go every year. The one trend that struck me as odd is that the search for information about this year’s theme was the morning AFTER the event ended (@ 3 am)!

I think some students may have a difficult time thinking of things to search for in Trends that will give them info they care about. I may come up with a list to get them started with the expectation that they will actually do their research of something else once they get into it.


I think part of the interest for students isn’t so much gaining info they care about as much as seeing patterns (possibly unexpected patterns) and trying to figure out a “story” behind them. The search topic could be something as mundane as a search term "pumpkin’ and noticing the search term has a regular cycle of spikes (when viewing 5 year data). Upon closer inspection, it seems to be annual… around the same time each year (I wonder why)… and always followed by a smaller spike (around the end of November hmmmm)…

Sometimes searching for items in pop culture (say “iphone 7”) may give predictable results (spike around the release date) that student may still find interesting that actual real-life data from around the world corresponds to what they might predict.

Also, if you wanted to take a detour… “Why doesn’t China search for anything?” :oP

I feel a crucial part of this lesson is distinguishing between observations and inferences. I did this lesson last year several days before the election and the front page of Google Trends showed that across the country the search term “trump” dwarfed the search term “clinton”. Many of my students reacted “omg Trump is beating Clinton” and after hearing groups of students comment on this, I paused everyone to ask them what the data actually represents. “Is it saying that all these people are voting for Trump?” It took them a few seconds to think about it realize what the data actually represents is how many searches are “trump”, and anything outside of that is an inference - maybe there’s more searches because he’s more controversial or interesting, etc. (Although it might not be a great example to bring up today, given the actual outcome may just feed students’ preconceived notions…)


I searched Halloween and Scary related activies around the US. It could be fun to guess why different activites are enjoyed in most of the US. Most of the US liked Haunted houses best, but pumpkins are really


Here is an article that provides useful strategies/related considerations when using Google Trends:

I had my students read through this article prior to Lesson 8, and then we worked through a few examples as a class. I think this helped them put the tool to better use when they started conducting their own research.


I chose to research weight lifting, walking, and bike riding. I found it interesting that biking was more of an actvity that is done in the East and West Coast, I would have thought that it would have been regional. Of course, a variable could be the type of bike riding - road vs. mountian. Walking is by far the most popular kind of exercise.

I think that students will find this interesting and search many trends. They may want to compare too many things and therefore have a chart that will be difficult to decifer.


Cool to see you found some interesting trends. How do you know biking is is more of an activity done in the East and West coast? Did you have to make some assumptions based on the actual data about search popularity?


I made the assumption using the map section.


Hey @dgaard, I think @frank_w_lee may be hinting towards the difference between search trend data and what is actually happening in reality. Check out the following lesson and I think his point may be more clear, but in short just because people are searching a topic doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing it, and of course many people complete activities without ever searching for them online. An important learning objective in this unit is beginning to think about what the data we collect can and can’t tell us as well as being very reflective on what assumptions we’re making as we analyze data.

Hope that helps!


Sorry, I was probably too breif in my response. In the lesson with my class we did discuss this in detail. We talked about how just by looking tat the map we could make false assumptions. This was actually a really good lesson to talk about how we have to be careful makeing judgements without considering all varients that could affect our perceptions and decisions.


Excellent! Great to hear that @dgaard!