September 2023 CCTM Trivia

Each newsletter will have a trivia question. From those that answer correctly, five winners will be drawn and receive CCTM swag (either a water bottle or a tee-shirt). 


This mathematician, also known for being the first computer programmer, has been highlighted nationally on October 15th since 2009 to highlight the often overlooked contributions of women in math and science. Who is she?

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Last month, we asked you, the members of CCTM “What famous statistician and founder of modern nursing was also believed to have been a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?”. Many of you correctly identified Florence Nightingale as the statistician who served during the Crimean War! Last month’s winners were: LeighAnn Kudoff and Anita Chakraborty-Spotts (Peak to Peak Charter School)

Nightingale’s mathematical and intellectual abilities manifested from an early age. By age ten, she had created tables that displayed data about the fruits and vegetables produced in her family’s gardens. Her father, who had earned his education at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, began teaching her formal mathematics when she was eleven. As a young woman, she requested—and received—private lessons in mathematics from a Cambridge-trained mathematics tutor. Nightingale was a talented and creative statistician. She returned from the Crimea having collected extensive data on soldier mortality rates. Nightingale completed her 850-page book Notes on Matters Affecting Health, Efficiency, and Hospital Administration of the British Army  in two years, toiling "sometimes for twenty-four hours out of twenty-four” to complete it. Her statistical analyses, combined with her vocal calls for change, ultimately propelled major health and data collection reforms in both military and civilian hospitals. Nightingale transformed data visualization. She realized that pages and pages of tables of numbers would not be nearly as arresting as a picture. She developed the graphic method known as the polar area graph to convey information about causes of death during the Crimean War. Nightingale’s circular graph was divided into twelve sections, one section for each month of the year. The twelve wedges spread out at varying distances from the center with the length of each wedge corresponding to total army mortality rates per month. Each of the twelve wedges was then divided into three colors: blue representing deaths from contagious diseases such as cholera and typhus, red representing deaths from wounds, and black representing deaths from all other causes. Nightingale saved many more lives with her mathematical work after the war than with her on-the-ground efforts in the Crimea. To be sure, she also transformed nursing education and helped professionalize the nursing profession. But, we should acknowledge and remember the other factors, like her social sphere and her unmarried status, that contributed to the success of her statistical reforms and her nursing reforms.

Learn more about Florence Nightingale here:  Florence Nightingale Biography 

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