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Cover Math - March 2012


March 2012, Volume 17, Issue 7, Page 433

Can the mode really be 22?  Although the intent was for the mode to be 122, given the other values of central tendency on the cover, these numbers can elicit a good class discussion.

Is it possible for the mode to be 22 in this case? How?
The mode is the number that occurs the most in a set, regardless of whether it is one of the larger, smaller, or “middle” numbers. The data set implied on the cover is distances of paper airplanes thrown by a class of students as described in the article “Cleared for Takeoff” by Stacy L. Reeder. Perhaps each throw was a unique distance with the exception of two or three students whose planes fell right to the floor out of their hand, 22 inches from the starting line. Then the mode would be 22 inches.

Example data set: 22, 22, 99.5, 105.5, 108.5, 109, 110, 110.5, 111, 114, 115, 122, 125.5, 129, 131.5, 134,5, 166, 184, 186.5, 238

Is the mode a good measure of central tendency for this set of data? Why?