“Do the math. Save a life.” New math program teaches safe driving and data science

The Idaho Transportation Department (ITD), Idaho Department of Education, Idaho STEM Action Center, and Horizon Credit Union have teamed up on new math resources for Algebra 1 students. A coalition of math educators from across Idaho developed a series of lessons, called “Do the math. Save a life,” that use Idaho Office of Highway Safety (OHS) crash data to teach Algebra and data analysis skills.

“So much data is thrown out in the world these days, and it’s important to empower students to be critical consumers of data. Being able to understand and interpret data and statistics is an essential skill for modern society,” explained Josie Derrick, Lead Math Innovator at One Stone and part of the team that created the lessons. “By providing students with opportunities to use math as a tool to think critically and engage in discussions where there may not be a “right” answer, we build skills for students to become more engaged citizens in the future.”

OHS collects data on all crashes that happen on Idaho roads and displays it on publicly available dashboards. The new math program uses that data to provide examples of math in real life and teaches students lessons like scatter plots, frequency tables, and analyzing claims.

“We are all more curious about what’s happening in our own communities,” said Erin Corwine, part of the team that created the lessons and K-8 Mathematics Instructional Specialist at the Developing Mathematical Thinking Institute, Idaho. “Because the dataset is specific to Idaho, students can interact with data points unique to their counties, and in some cases, even specific intersections, so there’s relevance in the learning.”

OHS data shows Idaho teens are 2.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash than other age groups.

“Not only are these lessons teaching them math, but they are also teaching teens about the dangers of distracted, aggressive, and impaired driving,” said Highway Safety Manager Josephine Middleton. “We want them to understand the risks to they can make safe choices once they start learning how to drive.”

Horizon Credit Union provided financial support for the creation of the math lessons.

The “Do the math. Save a life” program will be presented to math teachers from around the state at the Imagine the Places You’ll Go STEM Conference on August 3 and 4 in Boise. Part of the conference will include a field trip to see the mathematics that ITD employees use in their jobs. Boise Police will conduct an actual car crash demonstration and will be available to discuss the science behind crash investigations. Members of the media are welcome to observe the field trip on August 4 from 1-3:30 pm at the ITD Annex, 3293 W Jordan St, Boise, ID 83703.

Educators who want to review and use the new lessons can download materials from https://shift-idaho.org/do-the-math/.