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Resources for Choosing Maths Studies IA Topic and Secondary Data

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For those of you who are struggling to think of a maths IA topic, here are a few examples:

(all content taken from Ibmathsresources.com - even more ideas and info re the exploration on there.....)

Example Maths Studies IA Investigations:


1) Is there a correlation between hours of sleep and exam grades?
Studies have shown that a good night’s sleep raises academic attainment.
2) Is there a correlation between height and weight?
The NHS use a chart to decide what someone should weigh depending on their height. Does this mean that height is a good indicator of weight?
3) Is there a correlation between arm span and foot height?
This is also a potential opportunity to discuss the Golden Ratio in nature.
4) Is there a correlation between the digit ratio and maths ability?
Studies show there is a correlation between digit ratio and everything from academic ability, aggression and even sexuality.
5) Is there a correlation between smoking and lung capacity?
6) Is there a correlation between GDP and life expectancy?
Run the Gapminder graph to show the changing relationship between GDP and life expectancy over the past few decades.
7) Is there a correlation between numbers of yellow cards a game and league position?
Use the Guardian Stats data to find out if teams which commit the most fouls also do the best in the league.
8) Is there a correlation between Olympic 100m sprint times and Olympic 15000m times?
Use the Olympic database to find out if the 1500m times have go faster in the same way the 100m times have got quicker over the past few decades.
9) Is there a correlation between sacking a football manager and improved results?
A recent study suggests that sacking a manager has no benefit and the perceived improvement in results is just regression to the mean.
10) Is there a correlation between time taken getting to school and the distance a student lives from school?

Normal distributions:

1) Are a sample of student heights normally distributed?
We know that adult population heights are normally distributed – what about student heights?
2) Are a sample of flower heights normally distributed?
3) Are a sample of student weights normally distributed?
4) Are a sample of student reaction times normally distributed?
Conduct this BBC reaction time test to find out.
5) Are a sample of student digit ratios normally distributed?

Other statistical investigations

1) Does gender affect hours playing sport?
A UK study showed that primary school girls play much less sport than boys.
2) Investigation into the distribution of word lengths in different languages.
The English language has an average word length of 5.1 words. How does that compare with other languages?
3) Do bilingual students have a greater memory recall than non-bilingual students?
Studies have shown that bilingual students have better “working memory” – does this include memory recall?
4) Investigation about the distribution of sweets in packets of Smarties. A chance to buy lots of sweets! Also you could link this with some optimisation investigation.

Modelling using calculus

1) How can you optimise the area of a farmer’s field for a given length of fence?
A chance to use some real life maths to find out the fence sides that maximise area.
2) Optimisation in product packaging.
Product design needs optimisation techniques to find out the best packaging dimensions.

In terms of secondary data:

Secondary data sources:

1) The Census at School website is a fantastic source of secondary data to use. If you go to the random data generator you can download up to 200 questionnaire results from school children around the world on a number of topics (each year’s questionnaire has up to 20 different questions). Simply fill in your email address and the name of your school and then follow the instructions.

2) If you’re interested in sports statistics then the Olympic Database is a great resource. It contains an enormous amount of data on winning times and distances in all events in all Olympics. Follow links at the top of the page to similar databases on basketball, golf, baseball and American football.

3) If you prefer football, the the Guardian stats centre has information on all European leagues – you can see when a particular team scores most of their goals, how many goals they score a game, how many red cards they average etc. You can also find a lot of football stats on the Who Scored website. This gives you data on things like individual players’ shots per game, pass completion rate etc.

4) The Guardian Datablog has over 800 data files to view or download – everything from the Premier League football accounts of clubs to a list of every Dr Who villain, US gun crime, UK unemployment figures, UK GCSE results by gender, average pocket money and most popular baby names. You will need to sign into Google to download the files.

5) The World Bank has a huge data bank - which you can search by country or by specific topic. You can compare life-expectancy rates, GDP, access to secondary education, spending on military, social inequality, how many cars per 1000 people and much much more.

6) Gapminder is another great resource for comparing development indicators – you can plot 2 variables on a graph (for example

urbanisation against unemployment, or murder rates against urbanisation) and then run them over a number of years. You can also download Excel speadsheets of the associated data.

Edited by MrEuler
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  • 4 years later...


I realised this was posted in 2014.Somehow my math studies teacher is under the impression that choosing a topic in correlation lessens your chance of getting a good grade as it is over done.Is this true ? Has the expectations of  a math studies IA changed ?

Awaiting a reply !

Thank you.

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