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Over the Hill - Aging on a Normal Curve

Activity Description


Students will use census data from a sample of 136 U.S. counties and other sample data to make estimates about the U.S. population that is 65 or older in all other counties and about other variables, using normal distribution models.

Suggested Grade Level


Approximate Time Required

30-45 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to estimate percentages based on a normal distribution using the “empirical rule.”
  • Students will be able to use a data set’s mean and standard deviation to fit it to a normal distribution.

Materials Required

  • The student version of this activity, 12 pages
  • Calculators

Activity Items

The following items are part of this activity. The items, their data sources, and instructions for viewing the source data online appear at the end of the teacher version.

  • Percentage of Population Aged 65 and Older
  • Percentage of Family Households
  • Average Hours of Student Sleep on a School Night

Teacher Notes

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy

Students will engage with, evaluate, and analyze mathematical problems involving normal models.


High School Math


  • Empirical rule
  • Histograms
  • Normal models
  • Proportions

Skills Taught

  • Identifying normality in a data set
  • Estimating percentages from a normal distribution
  • Making predictions
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